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Paper oil, Minsky financial instability hypothesis and casino capitalism

 Why Peak Oil Threatens the Casino Capitalism

News Peak Cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump Recommended Links The idea of Minsky moment Oil glut fallacy Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Great condensate con
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Slightly skeptical view of oil price forecasts

 

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Note: This article sounds pretty counterintuitive in view of current slump of oil prices with a barrel of oil prices below $30 (more then 4 times drop from the highest level achieved.), In other words, instead of peak oil temporary the world is living in the regime of "oil glut" (which is a misnomer, as in reality this is an overproduction of condensate not oil, but at least low prices are real). 

But the key reason for this was extremely rapid increase  of production in the US and Canada in 2012-2014 fueled by cheap credit. Essentially producing "subprime oil" and in parallel the stream of junk bonds that will never be repaid (aka subprime oil as a Ponzi scheme).

At the same time this was not a revolution but a retirement party as fundamental did not change -- abundance of credit for shale oil and tar sand project was just a side effect of QE.

Reprinted from: Commentary: Why Peak Oil Threatens the International Monetary System By Erik Townsend

| January 6, 2013 (Note: Commentaries do not necessarily represent the position of ASPO-USA. )

Introduction

Having spent the last several years of my life engineering investment strategies to profit from the inevitability of Peak Oil, I’ve become obsessed with understanding the ramifications of radically different energy supply dynamics on the global economy. There are many facets to this, some obvious and some not so obvious. So when ASPO-USA Executive Director Jan Mueller approached me at the end of this year’s conference in Austin and asked for an article discussing the less obvious economic impacts of Peak Oil, I knew instantly that the topic should be the threat Peak Oil poses to the International Monetary System (IMS). This connection is critically important, but far from obvious.

I assure you that this story is very much about Peak Oil, but please bear with me, as I’ll need to start by reviewing what the IMS is and how it came about in the first place. Then I’ll explain the role energy has already played in shaping the present-day IMS, and finally, I’ll tie this back to Peak Oil by explaining why rising energy prices could very well be the catalyst that will cause the present system to fail.

What is the International Monetary System?

At the end of World War II, many countries were literally lying in ruin, and needed to be rebuilt. It was clear that international trade would be very important going forward, but how would it work? World leaders recognized the need to architect a new monetary system that would facilitate international trade and allow the world to rebuild itself following the most devastating war in world history.

A global currency was out of the question because the many countries of the world valued their sovereignty, and wanted to continue to issue their own domestic currencies. In order for international trade to flourish, a system was needed to allow trade between dozens of different nations, each with its own currency.

A convention was organized by the United Nations for the purpose of bringing world leaders together to architect this new International Monetary System. The meetings were held in July, 1944 at the Mt. Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, and were attended by 730 delegates representing all 44 allied nations. The official name for the event was the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, but it would forever be remembered as The Bretton Woods Conference.

To this day, the system designed in those meetings remains the basis for all international trade, and is known as the Bretton Woods System. The system has evolved quite a bit since its inception, but its core principles remain the basis for all international trade. I’m going to focus this article on the parts of the system which I believe are now at risk of radical change, with Peak Oil the most likely catalyst to bring about that change. Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the system itself should refer to the Further Reading section at the end of this article.

Why is an International Monetary System needed?

It simply wouldn’t be practical for all countries to sell their export products to other countries in their own currencies. If one had to pay for wine from France in French Francs (there was no Euro currency in 1944), and then pay to import a BMW automobile in German Marks, then pay for copper produced in Chile in Pesos, each country would face an overwhelming burden just maintaining reserve deposits of all the various world currencies. The system of trade would be very inefficient. For centuries, this problem has been solved by using a single standard currency for all international trade.

Because a standard-currency system dictates that each nation’s central bank will need to maintain a reserve supply of the standard currency in order to facilitate international trade, the standard currency is known as the reserve currency. At various times in history, the Greek Drachma, the Roman Denari, and the Islamic Dinar have served as de-facto reserve currencies. Prior to World War II, the English Pound Sterling was the international reserve currency.

Throughout history, reserve currencies came into and out of use through happenstance. The Bretton Woods conference marked the first time that a global reserve currency was established by formal treaty between cooperating nations. The currency chosen was, of course, the U.S. Dollar.

How does the IMS work?

The core of the system was the U.S. Dollar serving as the standard currency for international trade. To assure other nations of the dollar’s value, the U.S. Treasury would guarantee that other nations could convert their U.S. dollars into gold bullion at a fixed exchange rate of $35/oz. Other nations would then “peg” their currencies to the U.S. dollar at a fixed rate of exchange. Each nation’s central bank would be responsible for “defending” the official exchange rate to the U.S. dollar by offering to buy or sell any amount of currency bid or offered at that price. This meant each nation would need to keep a healthy reserve of U.S. dollars on hand to service the needs of domestic businesses wishing to convert money between the local currency and the U.S. dollar.

By design, the effect of the system was that each national currency was indirectly redeemable for gold. This was true because each nation’s central bank guaranteed convertibility of its own currency to U.S. dollars at some fixed rate of exchange, and the U.S. Treasury guaranteed convertibility of U.S. dollars to gold at a fixed rate of $35/oz. So long as all of the governments involved kept their promises, each nation’s domestic currency would be as good as gold, because it was ultimately convertible to gold. United States President Richard Nixon would break the most central promise of the entire system (U.S. dollar convertibility for gold) on August 15, 1971. I’ll come back to that event later in this article.

Triffin’s Dilemma

In 1959, three years after M. King Hubbert’s now-famous Peak Oil predictions, economist Robert Triffin would make equally prescient predictions about the sustainability of the “new” IMS, which was then only 15 years old. Sadly, Triffin’s predictions, like Hubbert’s, would be ignored by the mainstream.

The whole reason for choosing the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency was that without a doubt, the U.S.was the world’s strongest credit in 1944. To assure confidence in the system, the strongest, most creditworthy currency on earth was chosen to serve as the standard unit of account for global trade. To eliminate any question about the value of the dollar, the system was designed so that any international holder of U.S. dollars could convert those dollars to gold bullion at a pre-determined fixed rate of exchange. Dollars were literally as good as gold.

Making the USD the world’s reserve currency created an enormous international demand for more dollars to meet each nation’s need to hold a reserve of dollars. The USA was happy to oblige by printing up more greenbacks. This provided sufficient dollars for other nations to hold as foreign exchange reserves, while at the same time allowing the U.S.to spend beyond its means without facing the same repercussions that would occur were it not the world’s reserve currency issuer.

Triffin observed that if you choose a currency because it’s a strong credit, and then give the issuing nation a financial incentive to borrow and print money recklessly without penalty, eventually that currency won’t be the strongest credit any more! This paradox came to be known as Triffin’s Dilemma.

Specifically, Triffin predicted that as issuer of the international reserve currency, the USA would be prone to over consumption, over-indebtedness, and tend toward military adventurism. Unfortunately, the U.S. Government would prove Triffin right on all three counts.

Triffin correctly predicted that the USA would eventually be forced off the gold standard. The international demand for U.S. dollars would allow the USA to create more dollars than it otherwise could have without bringing on domestic inflation. When a country creates too much of its own currency and that money stays in the country, supply-demand dynamics kick in and too much money chasing too few goods and services results in higher prices. But when a country can export its currency to other nations who have an artificial need to hold large amounts of that currency in reserve, the issuing country can create far more money than it otherwise could have, without causing a tidal wave of domestic inflation.

Nixon proves Triffin right

By 1970, the U.S.had drastically over-spent on the Vietnam War, and the number of dollars in circulation far outnumbered the amount of gold actually backing them. Other nations recognized that there wasn’t enough gold in Fort Knox for the U.S.to back all the dollars in circulation, and wisely began to exchange their excess USDs for gold. Before long, something akin to a run on the bullion bank had begun, and it became clear that the USA could not honor the $35 conversion price indefinitely.

On August 15, 1971, President Nixon did exactly what Triffin predicted more than a decade earlier: he declared force majeure, and defaulted unilaterally on the USA’s promise to honor gold conversion at $35/oz, as prescribed by the Bretton Woods accord.

Of course Nixon was not about to admit that the reason this was happening was that the U.S. Government had abused its status as reserve currency issuer and recklessly spent beyond its means. Instead, he blamed “speculators”, and announced that the United States would suspend temporarily the convertibility of the Dollar into gold. Forty-two years later, the word temporarily has taken on new meaning.

Exorbitant Privilege

With the whole world conducting international trade in U.S. dollars, nations with large export markets wound up with a big pile of U.S. dollars (payments for the goods they exported). The most obvious course of action for the foreign companies who received all those dollars as payment for their exported products would be to exchange the dollars on the international market, converting them into their own domestic currencies. What may not be obvious at first glance is that there would be catastrophic unintended consequences if they actually did that.

If all the manufacturing companies in Japan or China converted their dollar revenues back into local currency, the act of selling dollars and buying their domestic currencies would cause their own currencies to appreciate markedly against the dollar. The same holds true for oil exporting countries. If they converted all their dollar revenues back into their own currencies, doing so would make their currencies more expensive against the dollar. That would make their exports less attractive because, being priced in dollars, they would fetch lower and lower prices after being converted back into the exporting nation’s domestic currency.

The solution for the exporting nations was for their central banks to allow commercial exporters to convert their dollars for newly issued domestic currency. The central banks of exporting nations would wind up with a huge surplus of U.S. dollars they needed to invest somewhere without converting them to another currency. The obvious place to invest them was into U.S. Government Bonds.

This is the mechanism through which the reserve currency status of the dollar creates artificial demand for U.S. dollar-denominated treasury debt. That artificial demand allows the United States government to borrow money from foreigners in its own currency, something most nations cannot do at all. What’s more, this artificial demand for U.S. Treasury debt allows the USA to borrow and spend far more borrowed foreign money than it would otherwise be able to, were it not the world’s reserve currency issuer. The reason is that, if not for the artificial need to hold dollar reserves, foreign lenders would be much less inclined to purchase U.S. debt, and would therefore demand much higher interest rates. Similarly, the more that international trade has grown as a result of globalization, the more the United States’ exorbitant privilege has grown.

Have you ever wondered why China, Japan, and the oil exporting nations have such enormous U.S. Treasury bond holdings, despite the fact that they hardly pay any interest these days? The reason is definitely not because those nations think 1.6% interest on a 10-year unsecured loan to a nation known to have a reckless spending habit is a good investment. It’s because they have little other choice. The more their own economies rely on exports priced in dollars, the more they need to keep their own currencies attractively priced relative to the U.S. dollar in order for their exports to remain competitive on the international market. To achieve that outcome, they must hold large reserves denominated in U.S. dollars. That’s why China and Japan – major export economies – are the biggest foreign holders of U.S. debt.

The net effect of this system is that the USA gets to borrow money from foreigners at artificially low interest rates. Moreover, the USA can become over-indebted without the usual consequences of increasing borrowing cost and declining creditworthiness. Other nations have little choice but to maintain a large reserve supply of dollars as the international trade currency. But the U.S. has no need to maintain large reserves of other nations’ currencies, because those currencies are not used in international trade.

By the mid-1960s, this phenomenon became known as exorbitant privilege: That phrase refers to the ability of the USA to go into debt virtually for free, denominated in its own currency, when no other nation enjoys such a privilege. The phrase exorbitant privilege is often attributed to French President Charles de Gaulle, although it was actually his finance minister, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who coined the phrase.

What’s important to understand here is that the whole reason the U.S. can get away with running trillion-dollar budget deficits without the bond market revolting (a la Greece) is because of exorbitant privilege. And that privilege is a direct consequence of the U.S. dollar serving as the world’s reserve currency. If international trade were not conducted in dollars, exporting nations (both manufacturers and oil exporters) would no longer need to hold large reserves of U.S. dollars.

Put another way, when the U.S. dollar loses its reserve currency status, the U.S. will lose its exorbitant privilege of spending beyond its means on easy credit. The U.S. Treasury bond market will most likely crash, and borrowing costs will skyrocket. Those increased borrowing costs will further exacerbate the fiscal deficit. Can you say self-reinforcing vicious cycle?

But wait… Wasn’t Gold convertibility the whole basis of the system?

If the whole point of the Bretton Woods system was to guarantee that all the currencies of the world were “as good as gold” because they were convertible to U.S. dollars, which in turn were promised to be convertible into gold… And then President Nixon broke that promise in 1971… Wouldn’t that suggest that the whole system should have blown up in reaction to Nixon slamming the gold window shut in August of ’71?

Actually, it almost did. But miraculously, the system has held together for the last 42 years, despite the fact that the most fundamental promise upon which the system was based no longer holds true. To be sure, the Arabs were not happy about Nixon’s action, and they complained loudly at the time, rhetorically asking why they should continue to accept dollars for their oil, if those dollars were not backed by anything, and might just become worthless paper. After all, if U.S. dollars were no longer convertible into gold, what value did they really have to foreigners? The slamming of the gold window by President Nixon in 1971 was not the only cause of the Arab oil embargo, but it was certainly a major influence.

What’s holding the IMS together?

Why didn’t the rest of the world abandon the dollar as the global reserve currency in reaction to the USA unilaterally reneging on gold convertibility in 1971? In my opinion, the best answer is simply “Because there was no clear alternative”. And to be sure, the unmatched power of the U.S.military had a lot to do with eliminating what might otherwise have been attractive alternatives for other nations.

U.S. diplomats made it clear to Arab leaders that they wanted the Arabs to continue pricing their oil in dollars. Not just for U.S.customers, but for the entire world. Indeed, U.S. leaders at the time understood all too well just how much benefit the USA derives from exorbitant privilege, and they weren’t about to give it up.

After a few years of tense negotiations including the infamous oil embargo, the so-called petro-dollar business cycle was born. The Arabs would only accept dollars for their oil, and they would re-invest most of their profits in U.S. Treasury debt. In exchange for this concession, they would come under the protectorate of the U.S. military. Some might even go so far as to say that the U.S. government used the infamous Mafia tactic of making the Arabs an “offer they couldn’t refuse” – forcing oil producing nations to make financial concessions in exchange for “protection”.

With the Arabs now strongly incented to continue pricing the world’s most important commodity in U.S. dollars, the Bretton Woods system lived on. No longer constrained by the threat of a run on its bullion reserves, the U.S. kicked its already-entrenched practice of borrowing and spending beyond its means into high gear. For the past 42 years, the entire world has continued to conduct virtually all international trade in Dollars. This has forced China, Japan, and the oil exporting nations to buy and hold an enormous amount of U.S. Treasury debt. Exorbitant privilege is the key economic factor that allows the U.S.to run trillion dollar fiscal deficits without crashing the Treasury bond market. So far.

There’s a limit to how long this can last

But how long can this continue? The U.S.debt-to-GDP ratio now exceeds 100%, and the U.S. has literally doubled its national debt in the last 6 years alone. It stands to reason that eventually, other nations will lose faith in the dollar and start conducting business in some other currency. In fact, that’s already started to happen, and it’s perhaps the most important, under-reported economic news story in all of history.

Some examples…China and Brazil are now conducting international trade in their own currencies, as are Russia and China. Turkey and Iran are trading oil for gold, bypassing the dollar as a reserve currency. In that case, US sanctions are a big part of the reason Iran can’t sell its oil in dollars. But I wonder if President Obama considered the undermining effect on exorbitant privilege when he imposed those sanctions. I fear that the present U.S. government doesn’t understand the importance of the dollar’s reserve currency role nearly as well as our leaders did in the 1970s.

The Biggest Risk We Face is a US Bond and Currency Crisis

To be sure, Peak Oil in general represents a monumental risk to humanity because it’s literally impossible to feed all 7+ billion people on the planet without abundant energy to run our farming equipment and distribution infrastructure. But the risks stemming directly from declining energy production are not the most imposing, in my view.

Decline rates will be gradual at first, and it will be possible, even if unpopular, to curtail unnecessary energy consumption and give priority to life-sustaining uses for the available supply of liquid fuels. In my opinion, the greatest risks posed by Peak Oil are the consequential risks. These include resource wars between nations, hoarding of scarce resources, and so forth. Chief among these consequential risks is the possibility that the Peak Oil energy crisis will be the catalyst to cause a global financial system meltdown. In my opinion, the USA losing its reserve currency status is likely to be at the heart of such a meltdown.

A good rule of thumb is that if something is unsustainable and cannot continue forever, it will not continue forever. The present incarnation of the IMS, which affords the United States the exorbitant privilege of borrowing a seemingly limitless amount of its own currency from foreigners in order to finance its reckless habit of spending beyond its means with trillion-dollar fiscal deficits, is a perfect example of an unsustainable system that cannot continue forever.

But the bigger the ship, the longer it takes to change course. The IMS is the biggest financial ship in the sea, and miraculously, it has remained afloat for 42 years after the most fundamental justification for its existence (dollar-gold convertibility) was eliminated. How long do we have before the inevitable happens, and what will be the catalyst(s) to bring about fundamental change? Those are the key questions.

In my opinion, the greatest risk to global economic stability is a sovereign debt crisis destroying the value of the world’s reserve currency. In other words, a crash of the U.S. Treasury Bond market. I believe that the loss of reserve currency status is the most likely catalyst to bring about such a crisis.

The fact that the United States’ borrowing and spending habits are unsustainable has been a topic of public discussion for decades. Older readers will recall billionaire Ross Perot exclaiming in his deep Texas accent, “A national debt of five trillion dollars is simply not sustainable!” during his 1992 Presidential campaign. Mr. Perot was right when he said that 20 years ago, but the national debt has since more than tripled. The big crisis has yet to occur. How is this possible? I believe the answer is that because the U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency and is perceived by institutional investors around the globe to be the world’s safest currency, it enjoys a certain degree of immunity derived from widespread complacency.

But that immunity cannot last forever. The loss of reserve currency status will be the forcing function that begins a self-reinforcing vicious cycle that brings about a U.S. bond and currency crisis. While many analysts have opined that the USA cannot go on borrowing and spending forever, relatively few have made the connection to loss of reserve currency status as the forcing function to bring about a crisis.

We’re already seeing small leaks in the ship’s hull. China openly promoting the idea that the yuan should be asserted as an alternative global reserve currency would have been unthinkable a decade ago, but is happening today. Major international trade deals (such as China and Brazil) not being denominated in US dollars would have been unthinkable a decade ago, but are happening today.

So we’re already seeing signs that the dollar’s exclusive claim on reserve currency status will be challenged. Remember, when the dollar loses reserve currency status, the U.S.loses exorbitant privilege. The deficit spending party will be over, and interest rates will explode to the upside. But to predict that this will happen right now simply because the system is unsustainable would be unwise. After all, by one important measure the system stopped making sense 42 years ago, but has somehow persisted nonetheless. The key question becomes, what will be the catalyst or proximal trigger that causes the USD to lose reserve currency status, igniting a U.S. Treasury Bond crisis?

Elevated Risk

It’s critical to understand that the USA is presently in a very precarious fiscal situation. The national debt has more than doubled in the last 10 years, but so far, there don’t seem to have been any horrific consequences. Could it be that all this talk about the national debt isn’t such a big deal after all?

The critical point to understand is that while the national debt has more than doubled, the U.S. Government’s cost of borrowing hasn’t increased at all. The reason is that interest rates are less than half what they were 10 years ago. Half the interest on twice as much principal equals the same monthly payment, so to speak. This is exactly the same trap that subprime mortgage borrowers fell into. First, money is borrowed at an artificially low interest rate. But eventually, the interest rate increases, and the cost of borrowing skyrockets. The USA is already running an unprecedented and unsustainable $1 trillion+ annual budget deficit. All it would take to double the already unsustainable deficit is for interest rates to rise to their historical norms.

This all comes back to exorbitant privilege. The only reason interest rates are so low is that the Federal Reserve is intentionally suppressing them to unprecedented low levels in an attempt to combat deflation and resuscitate the economy. The only reason the Fed has the ability to do this is that foreign lenders have an artificial need to hold dollar reserves because the USD is the global reserve currency. They would never accept such low interest rates otherwise. Loss of reserve currency status means loss of exorbitant privilege, and that in turn means the Fed would lose control of interest rates. The Fed might respond by printing even more dollars out of thin air to buy treasury bonds, but in absence of reserve currency status, doing that would cause a collapse of the dollar’s value against other currencies, making all the imported goods we now depend on unaffordable.

In summary, the U.S. Government has repeated the exact same mistake that got all those subprime mortgage borrowers into so much trouble. They are borrowing more money than they can afford to pay back, depending solely on “teaser rates” that won’t last. The U.S. Government’s average maturity of outstanding treasury debt is now barely more than 5 years. This is analogous to cash-out refinancing a 30-year fixed mortgage, replacing it with a much higher principal balance in a 3-year ARM that offers an initial teaser rate. At first, you get to borrow way more money for the same monthly payment. But eventually the rate is adjusted, and the borrower is unable to make the higher payments.

The Janszen Scenario

When it comes to evaluating the risk of a U.S. sovereign debt and currency crisis, most mainstream economists dismiss the possibility out of hand, citing the brilliant wisdom that “the authorities would never let such a thing happen”. These are the same people who were steadfastly convinced that housing prices would never crash in the United States because they never had before, and that Peak Oil is a myth because the shale gas boom solves everything (provided you don’t actually do the math).

At the opposite extreme are the bloggers on the Internet whom I refer to as the Hyperinflation Doom Squad. Their narrative generally goes something like this: Suddenly, when you least expect it, foreigners will wise up and realize that the U.S. national debt cannot be repaid in real terms, and then there will be a panic that results in a crash of the U.S. Treasury market, hyperinflation of the U.S. dollar, and declaration of martial law. This group almost always cites the hyperinflations of Zimbabwe and Argentina as “proof” of what’s going to happen in the USA any day now, but never so much as acknowledges the profound differences in circumstances between the USA and those countries. These folks deserve a little credit for having the right basic idea, but their analysis of what could actually happen simply isn’t credible when examined in detail.

Little-known economist Eric Janszen stands out as an exception. Janszen is the only credible macroeconomic analyst I’m aware of who realistically acknowledges just how real and serious the threat of a U.S. sovereign debt crisis truly is. But his analysis of that risk is based on credible, level-headed thinking complemented by solid references to legitimate economic theory such as Triffin’s Dilemma. Unlike the Doom Squad, Janszen does not rely on specious comparisons of the USA to small, systemically insignificant countries whose past financial crises have little in common with the situation the USA faces. Instead, Janszen offers refreshingly sound, well constructed arguments. Many of the concepts discussed in this article reflect Janszen’s work.

Janszen also happens to be the same guy who coined the phrase Peak Cheap Oil back in 2006, drawing an important distinction between the geological phenomenon of Hubbert’s Peak and the economic phenomenon which begins well before the actual peak, due to increasing marginal cost of production resulting from ever-increasing extraction technology complexity.

“But there’s no sign of inflation…” (Hint: It’s coming)

Janszen has put quite a bit of work into modeling what a U.S. bond and currency crisis would look like. He initially called this KaPoom Theory, because history shows that brief periods of marked deflation (the ‘Ka’) usually precede epic inflations (the ‘Poom’). He recently renamed this body of work The Janszen Scenario.

Briefly summarized, Janszen’s view is that the U.S. has reached the point where excessive borrowing and fiscal irresponsibility will eventually cause a catastrophic currency and bond crisis. He believes that all that’s needed at this point is a proximal trigger, or catalyst, to bring about such an outcome. He thinks there are several potential triggers that could bring such a crisis about, and chief among the possibilities is the next Peak Cheap Oil price spike.

How Peak Oil could cause a Bond and Currency Crisis

There are several ways that an oil price spike could trigger a U.S. bond and currency crisis. Energy is an input cost to almost everything else in the economy, so higher oil prices are very inflationary. The Fed would be hard pressed to continue denying the adverse consequences of quantitative easing in a high inflation environment, and that alone could be the spark that leads to higher treasury yields. The resulting higher cost of borrowing to finance the national debt and fiscal deficit would be devastating to the United States.

A self-reinforcing vicious cycle could easily begin in reaction to oil price-induced inflation alone. But we must also consider how an oil price shock could lead to loss of USD reserve currency status, and therefore, loss of U.S. exorbitant privilege. In the 1970s, the USA represented 80% of the global oil market. Today we represent 20%, and demand growth is projected to come primarily from emerging economies. In other words, the rationale for oil producers to keep pricing their product in dollars has seriously deteriorated since the ‘70s. The more the global price of oil goes up, the more the U.S. will source oil from Canadian tar sands and other non-OPEC sources. That means less and less incentive for the OPEC nations to continue pricing their oil in dollars for all their non-U.S. customers.

Iran and Turkey have already begun transacting oil sales in gold rather than dollars. What if the other oil exporting nations wake up one morning and conclude “Hey, why are we selling our oil for dollars that might some day not be worth anything more than the paper they’re printed on?” Oil represents a huge percentage of international trade, so if oil stopped trading in dollars, that alone would be reason for most nations to reduce the very large dollar reserves they now hold. They would start selling their U.S. treasury bonds, and that could start the vicious cycle of higher interest rates and exploding borrowing costs for the U.S. Government. The precise details are hard to predict. The point is, the system is already precarious and vulnerable, and an oil price shock could easily detonate the time bomb that’s already been ticking away for more than two decades.

What if U.S. Energy Independence claims were true?

There’s another angle here. Peak Oil just might be the catalyst to cause the loss of U.S. exorbitant privilege, even without an oil price shock.

Astute students of Peak Oil already know better than to believe the recently-popularized political rhetoric claiming that the USA will soon achieve energy independence, thanks to the shale oil and gas boom. To be sure, the Bakken, Eagle Ford, and various other U.S. oil and gas plays are a big deal. The most optimistic forecasts I’ve seen show these plays collectively ramping up to as much as 4.8 million barrels per day of production, which is equivalent to about ½ of Saudi Arabia’s current production.

But the infamous “wedge of hope” chart from the EIA projects production declines from existing global resources of 60 million barrels per day by 2030. By the most optimistic projections, all the exciting new plays in the U.S. will replace less than 5 million barrels per day. Where the other 55 million barrels per day will come from remains a mystery! And of course the politicians never bother to mention such minor details when they make predictions of energy independence.

But let’s just pretend for a moment that hyperbole is reality, and that the USA will achieve energy-independence in just a few years’ time. Now consider the consequences to the IMS. The oil-exporting nations would lose the USA as their primary export customer, and would no longer have an incentive to price their oil in dollars, or to maintain large dollar reserves. They would start selling off their U.S. treasury bonds, and pricing their oil in something other than dollars. Large oil importers like China and Japan would stop paying for oil in dollars, and would no longer need to maintain present levels of U.S. dollar reserves. So they too would start selling U.S. treasury bonds, pushing up U.S. interest rates in the process. Once again, we have the ingredients for a self-reinforcing vicious cycle of increasing U.S. interest rates causing U.S. Government borrowing costs to skyrocket.

Without the artificial demand for treasury debt created by exorbitant privilege, the U.S. would be unable to finance its federal budget deficit. The Federal Reserve might respond with even more money printing to monetize all the government’s borrowing needs, but without the international demand that results from the dollar’s reserve currency status, the dollar would crash in value relative to other currencies as a result of excessive monetization by the Fed. The resulting loss of principal value would cause even more international holders of U.S. Treasury debt to panic and sell their holdings. Once again, a self-reinforcing vicious cycle would develop, with consequences for the United States so catastrophic that the 2008 event would pale in contrast.

Rambo to the Rescue?

Let’s not forget that the USA enjoys virtually unchallenged global military hegemony. China is working hard to build out its “blue water navy”, including strategic ballistic missile nuclear submarine capability. But the USA is still top dog on the global power stage, and if the USA was willing to use its nuclear weapons, it could easily defeat any country on earth, except perhaps China and Russia.

While the use of nuclear weapons in an offensive capacity might seem unthinkable today, the USA has yet to endure significant economic hardship. $15/gallon gasoline from the next Peak Cheap Oil price shock coupled with 15% treasury yields and a government operating in crisis mode just to hold off systemic financial collapse in the face of rampant inflation would change the mood considerably.

All the USA has to do in order to secure an unlimited supply of $50/bbl imported oil is to threaten to nuke any country refusing to sell oil to the U.S. for that price. Unthinkable today, but in times of national crisis, morals are often the first thing to be forgotten. We like to tell ourselves that we would never allow economic hardship to cause us to lose our morals. But just look at the YouTube videos of riots at Wal-Mart over nothing more than contention over a limited supply of boxer shorts marked down 20% for Black Friday. What we’ll do in a true crisis that threatens our very way of life is anyone’s guess.

If faced with the choice between a Soviet-style economic collapse and abusing its military power, the USA just might resort to tactics previously thought unimaginable. Exactly what those tactics might be and how it would play out are unknowable. The point is, this is a very complex problem, and a wide array of factors including military capability will play a role in determining the ultimate outcome.

I certainly don’t mean to predict such an apocalyptic outcome. All I’m really trying to say is that the military hegemony of the USA will almost certainly play into the equation. Even if there is no actual military conflict, the ability of the U.S. to defeat almost any opponent will play into the negotiations, if nothing else.

Conclusions

The current incarnation of the International Monetary System, in which the USA enjoys the exorbitant privilege of borrowing practically for free, and is therefore able to pursue reckless fiscal policy with immunity from the adverse consequences that non-reserve currency issuing nations would experience by doing so, cannot continue indefinitely. Therefore, it will not continue indefinitely. How and when it will end is hard to say, especially considering the fact that it’s already persisted for 42 years after it stopped making sense. The system will continue to operate until some catalyst or trigger event brings about catastrophic change.

The next Peak Cheap Oil price spike is not the only possible catalyst to bring about a U.S. bond and currency crisis, but it’s the most likely candidate I’m aware of. I don’t believe that U.S. energy independence is possible, but if it were, the end of oil imports from the Middle East would also be the catalyst to end exorbitant privilege and bring about a U.S.bond and currency crisis. To summarize, the music hasn’t stopped quite yet, but when it does, this will end very, very badly. I’m pretty sure we’re on the last song, but I don’t know how long it has left to play.

Further Reading

Erik Townsend is a hedge fund manager based in Hong Kong.


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[Oct 23, 2020] Oil Production Cuts Could Be Extended- Putin -

Oct 23, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Submitted by OilPrice.com

Russia does not rule out the possibility that OPEC+ could extend its current 7.7 million barrels per day of production cuts into next year, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin .

The comments could be merely jawboning to a market that is desperately seeking reassurances that oil production will not ramp up too quickly beyond demand. But Russia has in the past been reluctant to keep up its end of the oil production cuts, so any mention that it is even thinking about a slower tapering of the cuts is noteworthy.

In fact, Russia had failed to bring its own oil production down to the level it agreed to for most of the period of cuts in 2019 and early 2020.

Russia also was the spark that ignited the oil price war between it and Saudi Arabia-and by default the United States, when it refused to agree to additional cuts using the argument that as OPEC decreases its production, it opens the door for U.S. producers to increase theirs.

Vladimir Putin has had several discussions with Saudi Arabia and the United States on the state of the oil markets. "We believe there is no need to change anything in our agreements," Putin said. "We will watch how the market is recovery. The consumption is on the rise."

Putin added, however, that they did not "rule out" the possibility that OPEC+ could keep the current production cuts instead of removing them at the pace it had initially agreed upon.

But Putin didn't stop there. "If need be, maybe, we can take other decisions on further reductions. But we don't see such a necessity now," Putin said, intimating that more cuts were at least possible.

Russia's willingness to even consider additional cuts or waiting longer to ease the cuts than planned will be viewed positively by the markets, which has been struggling to break out of a rut where oil prices have traded in a relatively tight band for months.

[Oct 19, 2020] The USA had more than doubled its oil imports from Russia last year and is now the world's second largest importer of Russian heavy oil

Notable quotes:
"... "Maas added that Germany takes decisions related to its energy policy and energy supply 'here in Europe', saying that Berlin accepts ' the fact that the US had more than doubled its oil imports from Russia last year and is now the world's second largest importer of Russian heavy oil .'" [My Emphasis] ..."
Oct 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Oct 17 2020 17:50 utc | 14

Heavy oil is needed for the chemical industry (as opposed to transport). The three biggest producers of heavy oil are Iran, Venezuella and Russia.

The US produces mostly light oil, thus it needs to import the heavy oil. Since the US sanctioned Iran and Venezuella, the only significant option remaining is Russia. It would be ironic if they are buying iranian oil sold to Russia.

winston2 , Oct 17 2020 18:09 utc | 20

karlof1 , Oct 17 2020 17:50 utc | 14

It appears Lavrov's saying we'll just ignore the EU and its major components for awhile got quick results as Germany's FM just announced "Nord Stream 2 will be completed" ; but he also said this:

"Maas added that Germany takes decisions related to its energy policy and energy supply 'here in Europe', saying that Berlin accepts ' the fact that the US had more than doubled its oil imports from Russia last year and is now the world's second largest importer of Russian heavy oil .'" [My Emphasis]

Now isn't that the interesting bit of news!! The greatest fracking nation on the planet needs to import heavy oil (likely Iranian, unlikely Venezuelan) from its #1 adversary. As for the end game, I've written many times what I see as the goal and don't see any need to add more.

Passer by , Oct 17 2020 17:58 utc | 16

[Sep 29, 2020] The USA can probably be energy independent but it requires $4 or higher price at the pump

Sep 29, 2020 | www.unz.com

JoaoAlfaiate , says: September 29, 2020 at 3:37 pm GMT

Trump said "I like being energy independent, don't you? I'm sure that most of you noticed when you go to fill up your tank in your car, oftentimes it's below two dollars "

But energy "independence" has got little to do with price at the pump. The marginal barrel sets the price. If the world price for crude goes to $100/barrel, West Texas Intermediate is going to the same level and gasoline will rise to $4.00.

Oil is at $40/barrel because the Gulf producers and Saudi Arabia want to insure a long term market for their one export product while making a lot of high cost production unsustainable and alternate energy sources less attractive.

[Sep 28, 2020] May Non-OPEC Oil Production drops to 2013 levels by Ovi

Images deleted: see the original for images
Sep 28, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

A post by Ovi on peakoilbarrel

Below are a number of oil (C + C ) production charts for Non-OPEC countries created from data provided by the EIA's International Energy Statistics and updated to May 2020. Information from other sources such as the OPEC and country specific sites is used to provide a short term outlook for future output and direction.

Non-OPEC production dropped slowly from a high of 52,638 kb/d in December 2019 to 52,396 kb/d in March 2020. In April that changed when we saw the first big drop in output from the Non-OPEC countries associated with Covid and with the drop in world oil prices. May output collapsed to 45,340 kb/d, which is close to the production level in September 2013.

The projection to September (red square) was made using the September STEO report. It projects that after the low of 45,350 kb/d in May, production will increase by close to 3,500 kb/d to just under 49,000 kb/d in September.

Above are listed the worldʼs 15th largest Non-OPEC producers. They produced 83.6% of the Non-OPEC output in May. On a YoY basis, Non-OPEC production was down by 5,011 kb/d. On a MoM basis, production was down by 5,282 kb/d. World oil production was down by 11,418 kb/d, MoM and 10,318 kb/d YoY.

May saw a drop in output to 2,765 kb/d but rebounded in June to 3,013 kb/d according to this source . Maintenance and extensive turnarounds planned between September and November could shave around 200,000 b/d from Brazil's output.

The EIA shows Canadian production was down in May by 658 kb/d by 248 kb/d to 3,694 kb/d. The CER data is higher because it includes NGPLs in their estimates and is close to 6% of total output.

Canadian oil exports by rail to the US fell from a high of 411,991 b/d in February to a new low of 48,820 kb/d in June.

April 156,242 kb/d May 58,048 kb/d June 48,820 kb/d

At the same time, according to this source , "The Trans Mountain pipeline carried a record-breaking amount of oil to British Columbia from Alberta in August, despite persistent price and demand woes gripping the energy sector as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on".

"We have been full every day during the COVID period. Demand for the pipeline has not softened at all," he told The Globe and Mail in an interview Tuesday.

Chinaʼs production peaked in June-15 at 4,408 kb/d and has been in a steady decline up to September 2018 where it reached an output low of 3,694 kb/d. According to this source, Chinaʼs August production increased by 2.6% over last August. Output increased by 59 kb/d to 3,899 kb/d (Red square). However August's output is still slightly lower than the June 2019 output of 3,918 kb/d even though Chinese oil companies have increased their spending to reduce the decline rate.

Kazakhstan production hit a new output high in February, 1,976 kb/d. For May, production dropped by 203 kb/d to 1,738 kb/d. OPEC expects their output to drop by an average 15 kb/d this year.

Mexicoʼs production decreased in May by 85 kb/d to 1,686 kb/d, according to the EIA. Data from Pemex shows that production dropped to 1,647 kb/d in July (red square). Under the OPEC + Declaration of Cooperation, Mexico committed to reduce output by 100 kb/d in May. Their target was almost met.

The EIA reported that Norway's May production was 1,775 kb/d, a decrease of 14 kb/d from April.

According to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, "average daily liquids production in July was: 1 739 000 barrels of oil, 296 000 barrels of NGL and 27 000 barrels of condensate. (Red lines)

On 29 April 2020, the Government decided to implement a cut in Norwegian oil production. The production figures for oil in July include this cut of 134 000 barrels per day in the second half of 2020."

In other words, if Norway hadn't made their commitment to reduce production, May's oil output would have been (1,739 + 134) 1,873 kb/d. This output level would have been very close to some earlier highs.

According to the Russian Ministry of energy, Russian production increased by 479 kb/d in August to 9,860 kb/d. July was revised up by 11 kb/d from 9,371 kb/d to 9,382 kb/d.

UKʼs production decreased by 63 kb/d in May to 1,004 kb/d. According to OPEC, crude production is expected to increase to 1,010 kb/d in June (Red square).

June's production rebounded from May's low by adding 420 kb/d according to the the EIA's August report. May's output was revised up by 15 kb/d in the EIA's September report.

US and Permian oil rigs decreased by 1 to 179 and 121 respectively in the week of September 18. As a percentage, Permian oil rigs represented 67.5% of the total for the week of Aug 21.

According to the September DPR, the 121 rigs operating in the Permian in September will be sufficient to raise production in September by 42 kb/d to 4,150 kb/d.

While WTI has remained close to $40/bbbl, there has been essentially no change in drilling activity since the week of July 17 in the US. There were 180 oil rigs in operation that week vs 179 for the week of September 18.

These five countries complete the list of Non-OPEC countries with annual production between 500 kb/d and 1,000 kb/d. All five are in overall decline. Their combined May production was 3,263 kb/d down 232 kb/d from April's output of 3,495 kb/d. Azerbaijan, Indonesia and India appear to be in a slow steady decline phase. Columbia's production began to drop in March as Brent prices began to drop.

According to Colombia's minister of energy, Maria Fernanda Suarez, ANH president Armando Zamora said if Brent oil prices hit around $35 a barrel national oil output could average around 850,000 barrels a day, down from a previous forecast of 900,000 barrels.

Guyana is a new oil producing country that started production in December 2019. According to this s ource , production was supposed to reach 120 kb/d by June. However gas re-injection issues have delayed its planned production rise. Output in June is expected to be close to 80 kb/d (red square). This new source for oil will offset some of the decline in other countries, which currently is close to 400 kb/d/yr.

NON OPEC W/O US PRODUCTION

This chart shows that oil production in Non-OPEC countries has only increased by 541 kb/d from December 2014 t0 December 2019. It is an indication that these countries as a whole are approaching an output plateau. April is the first month in which the large production drop associated with CV-19 and the plunge in oil prices shows up in this chart. In May 0utput from these countries dropped by 3,293 kb/d to 35,348 kb/d.

Using information from the September STEO, output from the Non OPEC countries W/O the US, is expected to rebound to 37,054 kb/d in September (red square). Looking further out to October 2021, output is predicted to reach 39,692 kb/d. (Blue graph). Note that the October 2021 high is currently expected to be 143 kb/d lower than the December 2019 peak. The 143 kb/d difference is probably well within the margin of error in making these projections.

World Oil Production

World oil production in May decreased by 11,417 kb/d to 71,374 kb/d. This chart also projects world production out to October 2020. It uses the September STEO along with the International Energy Statistics to make the projection. It projects that world production will recover by close to 5,000 kb/d in October 20202 to 76,019 kb/d.

This chart presents world oil production without the US. Note that the November 2016 peak is two years prior to all the worldʼs peak shown in the previous chart. May production was 61,372 kb/d, a decrease of 9,429 kb/d from April.

Using the STEO and the EIA international Energy Statistics, output for September is projected to be 63,768 kb/d, an increase of 2,396 kb/d higher than May.

[Sep 18, 2020] Saudi Prince Abdulaziz Warns Oil Short Sellers- -We Will Never Leave This Market Unattended

Paper oil sellers essentially dictate prices to real producers. So they are looting producers. That's hurt the process of replacement of old wells with new ones (and shale oil well live just several years, with only first two the most procductive) and as "paper oil" is Wall Street fiction, and at some point paper oil market might collapse and oil prices go to stratosphere.
Sep 18, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

As the price of oil begins to falter, Saudi Arabia has stepped up its rhetoric, even going as far as to warn short sellers not to bet against the price of the commodity.

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman gave "clear hints" on Thursday that there could be a change of direction in production policy forthcoming as the price of oil continues its slide, according to Bloomberg .

He said Thursday: "We will never leave this market unattended. I want the guys in the trading floors to be as jumpy as possible. I'm going to make sure whoever gambles on this market will be ouching like hell."

At the same time, Brent was falling below $40 per barrel and the market continues to show signs of waning demand. OPEC and its allies said they would be "proactive and preemptive" in addressing the diminishing price, recommending "participating counties take further necessary measures".

Abdulaziz started a meeting on Thursday with what Bloomberg called a "forceful condemnation" of members who are pumping out too much supply. His ire may have been directed to UAE Energy Minister Suhail al Mazrouei, who attended the meeting. The UAE has been "one of the worst quota breakers" in OPEC+, only making 10% of its pledged cuts for August.

Abdulaziz said: "Using tactics to over-produce and hide non-compliance have been tried many times in the past, and always end in failure. They achieve nothing and bring harm to our reputation and credibility."

"Attempts to outsmart the market will not succeed and are counterproductive when we have the eyes, and the technology, of the world upon us," Prince Abdulaziz continued.

UAE was overproducing by about 520,000 barrels per day in August and the country will try to make additional cuts in October and November to make up for past month shortcomings.

https://lockerdome.com/lad/13084989113709670?pubid=ld-dfp-ad-13084989113709670-0&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com&rid=www.zerohedge.com&width=890

Countries like Iraq and Nigeria have implemented more than 100% of their required cuts, helping give OPEC and Abdulaziz credibility.

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Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodities strategy at BNP Paribas SA, concluded: "You have to hand it to Prince Abdulaziz. Since he became Saudi oil minister, the kingdom has kept OPEC+ in line through his diplomatic and compelling powers of influence."


y_arrow Fabelhaft , 3 hours ago

If that were true, the energy world would be a lot better off. Producers want to contract; consumers, probably even China, like the market price. For it can be manipulated easier by consumers than by suppliers; because consumers control the intl banks and capitalist rules. Unless China is kept from the market table , then it might accept contracting. Tough racket, this sanctioning stuff is getting to be, eh?

[Aug 24, 2020] Oil price and the USA surge capacity

Aug 24, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ovi Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 5:32 PM

Ron/Dennis

I do not consider Canada, Brazil and Russia to be in the same category as the US. The US has what I call "Sustained Surge Capacity". The other three don't. For a few years, starting in August 2016, the US increased production at rate of more than 1 Mb/d, forcing OPEC to cut back because the US, by itself was meeting annual world demand increases of 1 Mb/d to 1.3 Mb/d.

From August 2016 to November 2019, US increased production from 8,534 kb/d to 12,866 kb/d an increase of 4,333 kb/d or an average increase of close to 1330 kb/d/yr. No other country could or has done that. Does that capability still exist? I think that will be decided by the future price of oil along with demand.

From Ron's chart, from August 2016 to November 2019, there was an increase of approximately 6,000 kb/d. Russia, Canada and Brazil only contributed 1,567 kb/d of the 6,000 kb/d, slightly more than 1/3 of of what the US added.

In other words, I think that a world production minus the US chart is more useful in assessing the probability of exceeding the November 2018 peak. On a world minus US chart, the peak occurred in November 2016. That peak was exceeded in November 2018 because the US added 3,102 kb/d over those two years, offset partially by OPEC cutting back. Clearly the US will be a major player in determining whether the November 2018 peak will be exceeded.

The only other countries that have some short term surge capacity is Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE as shown in Ron's charts above. However their demonstrated surge capacity may be more related to wells that were drilled and oil coming out of inventory and could not be sustained for three years like the US did.

I think that there is a likelihood that the next peak oil will be lower than the November 2018 peak and it will be a question of whether increasing demand around 2023 to 2024 can be met by supply and whether the associated increasing world oil prices begin to strangle world economic growth.

Ron Patterson Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 8:11 PM

Thanks Ovi, I agree with almost everything you say. The one place where I disagree is here. You said: The US has what I call "Sustained Surge Capacity". I would make a slight change in that statement. I would say: "The US had what I call "Sustained Surge Capacity". Of course, we don't have that anymore.

That ended in December 2019 but the virus came along and disguised that point. Of course we can increase from where we are today, but not past that December 2019 point.

There was a reason the rig count was dropping during the last half of 2019. There was a reason crack spreads were being decommissioned and sold for scrap well before that peak.

All oil reservoirs contain a finite amount of oil. It is absolutely astonishing that some people simply cannot understand that simple fact.

Ovi Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 10:07 PM

Ron

I grappled with that statement for a while and then I put it in because I still think that the US has that sustained surge capacity. What I don't know is whether the remaining/dormant SSC is large enough to exceed the 12,866 kb/d reached in November 2019. At that time the STEO was projecting a small increase into 2020, indicating the US was getting close to peak capacity.

Ron Patterson Ignored says: 08/17/2020 AT 8:49 AM

I have no doubt that US production can increase from where it is today. My point was the glory days are over for so-called "Saudi America". We will never get back to the point we reached in November 2019. Therefore we will never be able to cause world oil production to reach new highs.

[Aug 24, 2020] OPEC July 2020 Production Charts " Peak Oil Barrel

Notable quotes:
"... $40s WTI and Brent are wholly unsustainable prices. I'd argue that $50s and $60s are also if growth is being sought outside of a few areas. ..."
"... SS, there is no doubt that the pandemic will hasten peak oil supply. Many shut-in wells will not re-open. Frac spreads are being sold for scrap. Rigs are being decommissioned. Plus we are still producing at 80 to 90% of former levels. That means depletion is still continuing. So when they do get around to producing flat out again, the oil will just not be there. ..."
"... close to 100,000 job losses in the oil industry, many folks in their 50s and 60s. Hard to see how they bring folks on for another boom with the loss of all that skilled labor. ..."
"... So, maybe $100 oil over a period of time could turn this tide, but sub-$50 WTI sure won't. ..."
"... Yes, the future is hard to predict. But absent some tremendous financial return potential, why would young people have any interest in making a career of US upstream E & P? ..."
Aug 24, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ron Patterson Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 8:15 AM

OPEC peaked in 2016, Russia peaked in 2019, and the USA very likely peaked in 2019 also. And the vast majority of all other nations have peaked also as evidenced by their continuing decline. That should be enough evidence for anyone.

shallow sand Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 8:33 AM

Ron.

$40s WTI and Brent are wholly unsustainable prices. I'd argue that $50s and $60s are also if growth is being sought outside of a few areas.

The longer prices stay low due to the pandemic, the more likely the world has passed peak supply.

I don't see any sign that this pandemic will be over anytime soon.

Ron Patterson Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 8:46 AM

SS, there is no doubt that the pandemic will hasten peak oil supply. Many shut-in wells will not re-open. Frac spreads are being sold for scrap. Rigs are being decommissioned. Plus we are still producing at 80 to 90% of former levels. That means depletion is still continuing. So when they do get around to producing flat out again, the oil will just not be there.

As to the longevity of the pandemic, one can only guess. But things will never be back to the free and easy ways of the past. International travel will never be back to what it once was. There will be fewer travel vacations even within nations. The possibility of the virus returning will forever be on everyone's mind.

Stephen Hren Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 12:47 PM

Also close to 100,000 job losses in the oil industry, many folks in their 50s and 60s. Hard to see how they bring folks on for another boom with the loss of all that skilled labor.

Han Neumann Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 8:08 PM

Ron,

Once that a, in most cases, curative combination of medicines is available and one or a few very effective vaccins are registered and rolled out, it remains to be seen how 'normal' life will get again.

I don't think the virus will be forever on everyone's mind. Already now many young people have started to party like before the pandemic, even in Europe (infections rising in almost all European countries, so a lot of 'Trumpites' and Bolsonarites' also in Europe).

When vaccines are widely available at least everyone who is planning to travel by plane will be going to get a vaccin.
A good chance that vacations and air travel is close to normal somewhere in 2022 or 2023.

Dennis Coyne Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 9:42 AM

Shallow sand,

The pandemic will eventually subside an the US and other nations that have responded poorly to the pandemic will eventually learn from nations that have responded relatively better, compare Europe and US.

If peak supply is reached, but demand resumes 1% annual growth, I expect we will soon see Brent at $65/bo+/-5 at minimum, by 2025 to 2030.

shallow sand Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 10:37 AM

Dennis. Brent $65 in 2025-30 is only helpful if one or both of the following happens:

1. Capital markets continue to the pattern of 2015-19 and fund drilling that provides marginal returns or losses, but has no hope of providing superior returns.

2. Some other new, economical supply source is discovered.

Low oil prices to 2025-2030 would seem to mean supply will be constrained unless one or both of the above occur.

Conventional oil pretty much peaked in 2005.

I look at $10K invested in a major oil company in 2010. I look at $10K invested in a shale company in 2010. I then compare that to the S&P 500 return since 2010, all other industry groups, specific companies, etc.

Investing in oil is like investing in tobacco. The only allure is yield. Upstream E & P will have to keep borrowing to pay the dividend even if oil returns to $50 Brent. Same with $60 Brent.

shallow sand Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 11:03 AM

Dennis. One thing that you are missing is just how poor the future of the upstream oil industry is.

When the shale boom started, EV's were a pipe dream.

When the shale boom started, there wasn't widespread sentiment against oil. Global warming/climate change was on the radar, but not like now.

BP is trying to remake itself in large part because they cannot find talented and skilled younger workers who want to work for a fossil fuel company.

We have been in this industry since the 1970s. We have some of the best leases in our field and have made more money in this industry than in our professions or in other investments. There is a third generation in our family ranging from late teens to mid twenties. None are interested at all in this family business/investment. Same for one of my best friends who makes his living at this. Same for another, whose engineer son started working with him out of college, but before oil crashed in 2014 left and took a job in a "Green Energy" field.

Mike is in the same boat.

I know all of the major players in our field. All companies are family owned. There are a total of four in all of those families working in oil and gas who are under the age of 50, and those four are at or nearing 40, and started working in their family oil companies at least over 15 years ago.

As I have posted before, our employees range from 47-61 years of age. The two we hired who were in their twenties have both long ago left, and no longer work in upstream E & P.

We have participated in some Zoom meetings with the National Stripper Well Association. Almost all on those meetings is old (50-80 years old).

We hope to sell out on the next recovery, if that ever comes. But we are concerned there will not be any buyers.

So, maybe $100 oil over a period of time could turn this tide, but sub-$50 WTI sure won't.

Yes, the future is hard to predict. But absent some tremendous financial return potential, why would young people have any interest in making a career of US upstream E & P?

Hickory Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 9:35 AM

I capitulate. Ron you are correct, we are post peak.
Post Peak

OK, now what?
It is so strange to be post-peak and not have high prices for crude,
and food.
I guess that will be coming.

note- biofuels should not be counted in liquids tally. It is a different animal, with the source being dependent on farming and soil, not drilling and geology. Just because ethanol is used for propulsion shouldn't matter- electrons and batteries aren't counted either, and rightly so. Those belong in a different category- transportation energy.

Schinzy Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 12:02 PM

I have argued for several years that peak oil is a low price phenomenon, not a high priced phenomenon.

The most overrated law in economics is that of supply and demand. This law suffers from what Richard Feynman called "vagueness" (see
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYPapE-3FRw ). The problem is that it is always satisfied and hence gives absolutely no information about prices.

The latest iteration of our article on the oil cycle can be found at
http://www.math.univ-toulouse.fr/~schindle/articles/2020_oil_cycle_notes.pdf

alimbiquated Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 9:52 AM

Another problem with market theory (beyond vagueness) is that it lacks a time axis.

The theory states that the relationship between price and supply moves along the demand curve, but doesn't say how fast, just that "in the long run" the system will reach equilibrium. Being in equilibrium means being somewhere on the demand curve.

https://www.economicsonline.co.uk/Competitive_markets/Demand_curves.html

So for example, if prices go up, the demand quantity is expected to go down. The question is when.

Where does this go wrong? In classical market theory, for example, unemployment is impossible, because if labor supply outstrips demand prices (wages) should fall until until equilibrium is attained. This has been observed to be false on many occasions, including right now.

As Feymann states in the video, "If it disagrees with experiment, it's WRONG! That's all there is to it." Classical economics isn't just too vague, it is wrong.

Keynes joked about this that in the long term we'll all be dead. He meant equilibrium will never be reached, so we are never on the demand curve. He argued that "sticky prices", meaning the unwillingness to accept pay cuts, kept labor markets permanently out of equilibrium.

It's worth pondering whether oil prices are "sticky" as well. Saying yes is saying the law of supply and demand doesn't apply (in the short term). This year we have seen that both OPEC's politicking and panicky traders can cause wild swings in price unrelated to supply and demand.

Where market theory is vague is the shape of the demand curve. For example, if oil supply can't meet demand in the near future, as some here have posited, how high will prices go? Some claim it will go over $200, as people get desperate for it. Some claim that higher prices would increase efforts to find and drill more, putting a lid on prices. Some claim the shortage would crash the world economy, depressing prices. Some claim that faced with oil shortages, the world would simply switch to EVs, or stop wasting the gunk on poorly designed transportation systems, so prices would stay more or less the same.

Who is right? Nobody knows. So we don't know the shape of the demand curve. The theory is hopelessly vague.

hole in head Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 1:48 PM

A comment posted on ^peakoil.com^ . Interesting .
"The price action of WTI shows it quite clearly that the non oil extracting part of the economy can't afford to pay a high enough price that would allow the extracting, processing and delivery of oil products to it.

It's that simple, most of the oil still in the ground will stay there unless somehow you find a way to pay $100++ per barrel. The last 12 years has shown that we can't!

The best yearly average weekly price of WTI was right around $100
Average weekly price of WTI for years 2008 thru 2013 was $88.
Average weekly price of WTI for years 2014 thru 2019 was $53.

The trend is what it is and it shows no signs of changing, the price of WTI is still hitting lower lows and lower high.

I have no idea what the future will bring but the next 3 years are going to be interesting and not in a good way.

Have fun everyone."

Dennis,repeating myself ,the price of oil is going to trend down . Supply and demand curves do not apply where the world^s economic system is now placed . Alimbiquated has done a very good job explaining that .

Ron Patterson Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 6:38 PM

Much of the fall in output of the other 9 is from Iran, Nigeria, Libya, and Venezuela, much of that decline is due to political problems

No doubt it was. But political upheaval is part of the story, and always will be. There will be political problems ongoing for decades. Dennis, if your model excludes political problems, then you are living in a dream world.

Anyway, in addition to the political problems that you point out in those four nations, which will most likely continue, we have the natural decline in the other five nations in the chart below.

Hightrekker Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 6:42 PM

Nov 2018 is getting further in the rear view mirror -- –

Dennis Coyne Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 9:03 AM

Hightrekker,

Yes and oil prices have been low from Nov 2018 until now, do you expect that to continue for the next 10 years? I do not, perhaps that's the difference. 2025 to 2030 there is likely to be a new peak for World C plus C centered 12 month average output probably 1 to 3 Mb per day higher than the Nov 2018 peak. This assumes oil prices reach $64/bo or higher in 2020$ by June 2030.

Hightrekker Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 9:51 AM

Yes, I do not think we will surpass Nov 2018.
But I'm a European Historian, viewing other factors.

Survivalist Ignored says: 08/18/2020 AT 1:54 AM

I seem to recall, not too long ago, various talking heads prattling on about how USA LTO is now the new "swing producer"/source of swing supply. I guess we'll now get to see how well it swings on and off, as swing producers are wont to do.
My WAG is that it doesn't swing back on so well, as the swing off phase seems to be damaging (not just a tap you see), and when demand recovers after COVID, circa 2023, we'll see a price run up. Perhaps it'll be a damaging price run up. 2023 will be in the middle of Biden's first term, presumably.

Westexasfanclub Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 3:57 AM

And: Nigeria and Venezuela could ramp up their production only very, very slowly. They could not stem the general trend. Lybia is too little to make any serious difference. The only real wildcard is Iran. And it's the less probable to be played.

[Aug 08, 2020] Saudi Arabia is insolvent- --- Foreign Affairs - Sic Semper Tyrannis

Aug 08, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Saudi Arabia is insolvent? --- Foreign Affairs

"An ambitious leader never lets a crisis go to waste, and MBS is nothing if not ambitious. During the early days of the pandemic, he increased the kingdom's value-added tax from five percent to 15 percent, and the government earmarked $1 billion in stimulus payments to Saudi businesses struggling with the economic downturn. MBS directed his sovereign wealth fund to shop for bargains on global stock markets. He even went nose to nose with Russian President Vladimir Putin on oil prices: when Russia refused to respect production limits set in 2017, Saudi Arabia opened the spigot, driving the price of oil down, very briefly, into negative territory . Even with oil prices back around $40 per barrel, the Saudis are left with only half the revenue they need to balance the government's books. " FA

--------------

Well pilgrims, Trumpy and Jared may love the Saudis and the murderer MBS, but I do not. I was the Defense Attaché there for three years. It was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my army career. The level of social and legal restriction imposed by the theocracy was stifling. Normal life was simply impossible. Even as a diplomat I felt imprisoned in the embassy. For a foreigner to speak Arabic in public was most unwise because the immediate suspicion, often voiced, was that the foreigner was a SPY!

The one thing the Saudis have historically had "going for them" was the money that flooded the country from the ever flowing oil and gas stream. Now, that is largely finito. Good! That means less money to use in spreading the Wahhabi cult, and less money to spend on futile fantasies like the war against the Zeidi mountaineers in Yemen.

A million gastarbeiters have left the country? Good! Perhaps the Saudis will learn how to do actual work. Perhaps. pl

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/saudi-arabia/2020-08-04/end-saudi-arabias-ambitions


Jack , 07 August 2020 at 12:27 PM

Sir

What's your opinion on the dynamics that could lead to the fall of the House of Saud?

I'm sure in an insular country like that there must be much palace intrigue and suspicions on loyalty among those that bear arms. How does MbS insure his survival?

Linda , 07 August 2020 at 02:04 PM

It couldn't happen to better folks

BABAK MAKKINEJAD , 07 August 2020 at 03:37 PM

Col. Lang:

It will be decades before the identification of Salafi ideas as True Islam is discarded.

Decades of strife and bloodshed still lies ahead, in my opinion.

upstater , 07 August 2020 at 04:52 PM

With "friends" like KSA and Israel, who needs enemies? These two have driven US foreign policy for decades and the smouldering wreakage of MENA is the legacy of these miguided corrupt alliances. Between the fed and Treasury we'll be bailing out both of these monstrosities.

Unfortunately the 2 presidential candidates promise us of more of the same. I was so hopeful that Trump might make a break, but he seems to have been a weak leader with little follow through. Biden, of course, will put these misguided alliances on steroids administered by proven losers.

Richard Ong , 07 August 2020 at 07:14 PM

There's a positively classic scene at the beginning of the movie "A New Leaf." Walter Matthau's character is visited on the golf course by his accountant who's come to tell him that there's no more money in his trust account. Matthau is bewildered by this news uttering something along the lines of "But I still have plenty of checks." It's hilarious and someone in Saudi will also soon be visiting the Wahhabi loons to tell them the party is over. Life imitates art.

Polish Janitor , 07 August 2020 at 07:20 PM

Saudi Arabia has been in the news lately and none of them is good. One is WSJ's report on the quasi-secret China-Saudi nuclear cooperation and the 'Yellow-cake' production in a secret desert facility in the country's NW. I can already see the heat the Saudi's will be getting from this!

Two, is the story of the 'Tiger Squad' assassins who were ordered by MbS personally to pull off a Khashoggi on a former Saudi intelligence officer for his refusal to get back to the country.

The idea of the Saudi's march to nuclear weapons development is a terrifying idea, but the rumor is that they already have (at least) one in Pakistan. I particularly find it very strange that the Trump admin was positively 'nudging' the Saudis toward nuclear energy development until very recently, when Rick Perry was still in the administration! But a few days ago the official at the State Dep's arms control and non-proliferation desk poured cold water on Saudis and made it clear that the U.S. would not let them to do funny stuff wit uranium behind their backs.

Also of note is the part in the WSJ's report that caught my attention and where it mentions the involvement of an Argentinian energy firm that recently set up a nuclear reactor for the Saudis and that they were very keen on developing the enrichment cycle supposedly for 'research' purposes and under secrecy. This reminded me of the 'colorful' history of Israeli-Argentine secret nuclear weapons development cooperation in the 60's, in which Israel got its'yellow-cake' it needed from Argentina to develop its nukes. Which begs the question that are Saudis going the same route as Israel did back in the early 60s? Why not working with Japan, Germany, France, U.S. then if it is all peaceful?

I have had my fair share of interactions with the Saudi people. while the culture is pretty medieval with regards to social and religious matters, but when it comes to hospitality and alike they are welcoming, especially during the month of Ramadan and after Iftar, that is when they break their fasts at dusk. For the Saudis it is like a custom to be 'extra' generous and they donate free meals frequently to everyone.

nbsp; The Twisted Genius , 07 August 2020 at 09:09 PM

Years ago, I suggested a cyber operation to drain the royal family of their disposable wealth for the sole purpose of depriving the jihadists of further material support. Glad to see that the "invisible hand of capitalism" and the royal's own stupidity are doing just that. I don't want to see the royals toppled. Who knows what would replace them. But if they were weakened enough so that all their remaining resources and concentration are focused on keeping their people from rising up and ripping them to shreds, it would be fine by me. Let the jihadis be reduced to angry men in the mosque without the resources to turn their anger into meaningful action.

BTW, this idea of a cyber operation was from SST not from my time in DIA.

J , 08 August 2020 at 09:27 AM

While MBS's Tiger Squad assassins were denied entry into Canada to whack former Saudi Intel type/MBS critic Saad Aljabri, MBS succeeded in obtaining a fatwa directed against Saad Aljabri.

james , 08 August 2020 at 10:09 AM

pat - i think your personal experience of ksa reflects what most people in ksa probably feel on some level.. i can't know this for a fact, but i would say if there was any place where the usa was into doing a regime change, i would go along with this one.. anything would be better then what they have wrought.. the export of wahabbism - salafist ideology has also been a plague on the planet... at what point does this transfer of oil money into crazy religious ideology indoctrination bite the dust? it can't happen soon enough as i see it..

here is a link to one of the stories polish janitor refers to in their post above.. https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1773116483748

Babak makkinejad , 08 August 2020 at 12:55 PM

James

The Salafist approach to Islam is not crazy, i.e. insane. It is very much like Protestanism in as much as it rejects even the theoretical possibility of a Legitimate Central Religious Authority, it rejects Tradition, it rejects the possibility of sainthood - Olya allah -, it posits that any fool can read and interpret the Scriptures, and it rejects Theoretical Reason.

I think behind both Salafism and Protestanism appeals is a yearning for a simple moral and intellectual order that does not put too much strain on the believers' cognitive faculties; live under these black tents, follow these rules, and you are granted redemption in this life as well as the next.

"No need to trouble your pretty little brains to grapple with the world as you find it and not as you think it ought to be."

nbsp; turcopolier , 08 August 2020 at 01:48 PM

Babak

By "theoretical reason" you mean Kalaam?

Babak makkinejad , 08 August 2020 at 02:44 PM

I meant Philosophy.

Babak makkinejad , 08 August 2020 at 02:47 PM

James:

I should have written:

"...read and understand...", rather than "read and interpret..."

nbsp; turcopolier , 08 August 2020 at 03:02 PM

Babak

Felsafa is not highly regarded among the Sunnis because of the ancient closure of the Gate of Ijtihad. Felsafa is much more highly regarded among you Shia because you still have widely and highly regarded mujtahideen. Khomeini was a philosopher.

james , 08 August 2020 at 03:06 PM

babak... thanks... i have a hard time understanding the distinctions... i don't know enough of protestant ideology to appreciate the comparison.. as i understand it salafist ideology adopts sharia and sharia is handed down from 'religious authorities'.. do you agree in general with the description wikpedia gives on the salafi movement?? or is this slanted too much from your point of view?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salafi_movement

james , 08 August 2020 at 03:29 PM

is it too much to say that without philosophy there is just literalism? literalism seems to reflect the bare minimum of understanding when everything boils down to this...

nbsp; turcopolier , 08 August 2020 at 04:57 PM

james

Sunni Islam has been mostly about "literalism" since the defeat of the mu'tazila.

nbsp; turcopolier , 08 August 2020 at 05:03 PM

james

Sunni Islam does not admit of hierarchy except within consensus groups (Ijma'). Some are large and some are small. 12er Shiism effectively is hierarchical through mechanism of the "Hawza" schools of mujtahids (Ayatollahs). i will be surprised if you understand that. Ask for clarifications.

Babak makkinejad , 08 August 2020 at 06:22 PM

James

Sharia is just the Laws of Islam, the concept is common to all Muslim sects and schools, the content is common.

In my opinion, Seyyed Jamal Al Din Qazwini was not a Salafi as the worf is understood today. He was a Shia Muslim who was campaigning for a unified Muslim response to the ascendancy of the Western Diocletian civilization as well as the Russian Empire.

He was, in the final analysis, only partly successful in his effort, in as much as they could only make sense among the Seljuk Muslims.

Salafi ideas, in my opinion, are best understood as a response of Non-Seljuk Muslims to the Western Diocletian civilization. It reminds me of the Deobandis, another Muslim response to the Western Diocletian civilization, exemplified by Great Britain, in India.

Both Salafis and Deobandis consider Shia Muslims to be heretics. The Wiki omits that.

nbsp; turcopolier , 08 August 2020 at 08:13 PM

babak
"the content is common" Untrue. There are many different collections of hadith and jurisprudence that make it obvious that the content is not common among the different sects.

james , 08 August 2020 at 10:15 PM

pat... thanks for the additional comments... yes, i am confused by it all and think i am in way over my head here! maybe i ought to just bow out of the conversation...

babak.. thank you as well...as i said to pat, i believe i am in over my head on the topic... i have a viewpoint - a very subjective one again - generally all religion - the orthodox kind anyway - have all struck me as not all that religious.. it is more like a system where the so called authorities or leaders get to dictate how it is and the followers have to go along with it... the whole spirit of religion seems overlooked or upside down.. i was naive and thought religion was about love and kindness to others and basic tenets like that, but i believe in the upper echelons of these religious systems, it is one big power game... i don't know that chrisitianity is all that different from islam in this regard.. i don't know enough about buddhism to comment, but i have heard similar stories in this religion as well... call me agnostic...

i hope for the best for everyone, but in the case of saudi arabia - i personally think the ksa-uae and etc leadership exporting wahabbism and really whacked out ideologies around to places like pakistan and etc have not done the world or themselves any favours.. i hope it ends soon.. it reminds me of the christian evangelicals exporting christianity to far off places round the globe... it is a lot like that and i don't think it does much of any good.. all the generousity has serious strings attached as i see it..

and finally - i agree with pats comment at the top and would like to repeat that.. i can't see any good coming out of ksa and think it would be better gone, or replaced with something more tolerant..

[Jul 28, 2020] Turkey On The Warpath

Putin decision to save Erdogan from the coup in retrospect looks like a blunder...
Jul 28, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Uzay Bulut via The Gatestone Institute,

Turkey is currently involved in quite a few international military conflicts -- both against its own neighbors such as Greece, Armenia, Iraq, Syria and Cyprus, and against other nations such as Libya and Yemen. These actions by Turkey suggest that Turkey's foreign policy is increasingly destabilizing not only several nations, but the region as well.

In addition, the Erdogan regime has been militarily targeting Syria and Iraq, sending its Syrian mercenaries to Libya to seize Libyan oil and continuing, as usual, to bully Greece. Turkey's regime is also now provoking ongoing violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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Erdogan leads first Muslim prayer after Hagia Sophia mosque reconversion

Istanbul's Hagia Sophia reconversion to a mosque, 'provocation to civilised world', Greece says

Turkish top court revokes Hagia Sophia's museum status, 'tourists should still be allowed in'

Erdogan: Interference over Hagia Sophia 'direct attack on our sovereignty'

Libya's GNA says Egypt's warning on Sirte offensive a 'declaration of war'

Erdogan says 'agreements' reached with Trump on Libya

What Turkish Election Results Mean for the Lira

Erdogan Sparks Democracy Concerns in Push for Istanbul Vote Rerun

Since July 12, Azerbaijan has launched a series of cross-border attacks against Armenia's northern Tavush region in skirmishes that have resulted in the deaths of at least four Armenian soldiers and 12 Azerbaijani ones. After Azerbaijan threatened to launch missile attacks on Armenia's Metsamor nuclear plant on July 16, Turkey offered military assistance to Azerbaijan.

"Our armed unmanned aerial vehicles, ammunition and missiles with our experience, technology and capabilities are at Azerbaijan's service," said İsmail Demir, the head of Presidency of Defense Industries, an affiliate of the Turkish Presidency.

One of Turkey's main targets also seems to be Greece. The Turkish military is targeting Greek territorial waters yet again. The Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported :

"There have been concerns over a possible Turkish intervention in the East Med in a bid to prevent an agreement on the delineation of an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between Greece and Egypt which is currently being discussed between officials of the two countries."

Turkey's choice of names for its gas exploration ships are also a giveaway. The name of the main ship that Turkey is using for seismic "surveys" of the Greek continental shelf is Oruç Reis , (1474-1518), an admiral of the Ottoman Empire who often raided the coasts of Italy and the islands of the Mediterranean that were still controlled by Christian powers. Other exploration and drilling vessels Turkey uses or is planning to use in Greece's territorial waters are named after Ottoman sultans who targeted Cyprus and Greece in bloody military invasions. These include the drilling ship Fatih "the conqueror" or Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, who invaded Constantinople in 1453; the drilling ship Yavuz , "the resolute", or Sultan Selim I, who headed the Ottoman Empire during the invasion of Cyprus in 1571; and Kanuni , "the lawgiver" or Sultan Suleiman, who invaded parts of eastern Europe as well as the Greek island of Rhodes.

Turkey's move in the Eastern Mediterranean came in early July, shortly after the country had turned Hagia Sophia, once the world's greatest Greek Cathedral, into a mosque. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan then linked Hagia Sophia's conversion to a pledge to "liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque" in Jerusalem.

https://lockerdome.com/lad/13084989113709670?pubid=ld-dfp-ad-13084989113709670-0&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com&rid=www.zerohedge.com&width=890

On July 21, the tensions arose again following Turkey's announcement that it plans to conduct seismic research in parts of the Greek continental shelf in an area of sea between Cyprus and Crete in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean.

"Turkey's plan is seen in Athens as a dangerous escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean, prompting Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to warn that European Union sanctions could follow if Ankara continues to challenge Greek sovereignty," Kathimerini reported on July 21.

Here is a short list of other countries where Turkey is also militarily involved:

In Libya , Turkey has been increasingly involved in the country's civil war. Associated Press reported on July 18:

"Turkey sent between 3,500 and 3,800 paid Syrian fighters to Libya over the first three months of the year, the U.S. Defense Department's inspector general concluded in a new report, its first to detail Turkish deployments that helped change the course of Libya's war.

"The report comes as the conflict in oil-rich Libya has escalated into a regional proxy war fueled by foreign powers pouring weapons and mercenaries into the country."

Libya has been in turmoil since 2011, when an armed revolt during the "Arab Spring" led to the ouster and murder of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Political power in the country, the current population of which is around 6.5 million, has been split between two rival governments. The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), has been led by Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj. Its rival, the Libyan National Army (LNA), has been led by Libyan military officer, Khalifa Haftar.

Backed by Turkey, the GNA said on July 18 that it would recapture Sirte, a gateway to Libya's main oil terminals, as well as an LNA airbase at Jufra.

Egypt, which backs the LNA, announced , however, that if the GNA and Turkish forces tried to seize Sirte, it would send troops into Libya. On July 20, the Egyptian parliament gave approval to a possible deployment of troops beyond its borders "to defend Egyptian national security against criminal armed militias and foreign terrorist elements."

Yemen is another country on which Turkey has apparently set its sights. In a recent video , Turkey-backed Syrian mercenaries fighting on behalf of the GNA in Libya, and aided by local Islamist groups, are seen saying, "We are just getting started. The target is going to be Gaza." They also state that they want to take on Egyptian President Sisi and to go to Yemen.

"Turkey's growing presence in Yemen," The Arab Weekly reported on May 9, "especially in the restive southern region, is fuelling concern across the region over security in the Gulf of Aden and the Bab al-Mandeb.

"These concerns are further heightened by reports indicating that Turkey's agenda in Yemen is being financed and supported by Qatar via some Yemeni political and tribal figures affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood."

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In Syria , Turkey-backed jihadists continue occupying the northern parts of the country. On July 21, Erdogan announced that Turkey's military presence in Syria would continue. "Nowadays they are holding an election, a so-called election," Erdogan said of a parliamentary election on July 19 in Syria's government-controlled regions, after nearly a decade of civil war. "Until the Syrian people are free, peaceful and safe, we will remain in this country."

Additionally, Turkey's incursion into the Syrian city of Afrin, created a particularly grim situation for the local Yazidi population:

"As a result of the Turkish incursion to Afrin," the Yazda organization reported on May 29, "thousands of Yazidis have fled from 22 villages they inhabited prior to the conflict into other parts of Syria, or have migrated to Lebanon, Europe, or the Kurdistan Region of Iraq... "

"Due to their religious identity, Yazidis in Afrin are suffering from targeted harassment and persecution by Turkish-backed militant groups. Crimes committed against Yazidis include forced conversion to Islam, rape of women and girls, humiliation and torture, arbitrary incarceration, and forced displacement. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its 2020 annual report confirmed that Yazidis and Christians face persecution and marginalization in Afrin.

"Additionally, nearly 80 percent of Yazidi religious sites in Syria have been looted, desecrated, or destroyed, and Yazidi cemeteries have been defiled and bulldozed."

In Iraq , Turkey has been carrying out military operations for years. The last one was started in mid-June. Turkey's Defense Ministry announced on June 17 that the country had "launched a military operation against the PKK" (Kurdistan Workers' Party) in northern Iraq after carrying out a series of airstrikes. Turkey has named its assaults "Operation Claw-Eagle" and "Operation Claw-Tiger".

The Yazidi, Assyrian Christian and Kurdish civilians have been terrorized by the bombings. At least five civilians have been killed in the air raids, according to media reports . Human Rights Watch has also issued a report , noting that a Turkish airstrike in Iraq "disregards civilian loss."

Given Turkey's military aggression in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Armenia, among others, and its continued occupation of northern Cyprus, further aggression, especially against Greece, would not be unrealistic. Turkey's desire to invade Greece is not exactly a secret. Since at least 2018, both the Turkish government and opposition parties have openly been calling for capturing the Greek islands in the Aegean, which they falsely claim belong to Turkey.

If such an attack took place, would the West abandon Greece?


Gaius Konstantine , 10 hours ago

If such an attack took place, it will get real messy, real fast. The Turkish military is only partially adept at fighting irregular forces that lack heavy weaponry while Turkey has absolute control of the sky. Even then, the recent performance of Turkish forces has been lacklustre for "the 2nd largest Army in NATO".

Turkey should understand that a fight with Greece will mean that the advantages she enjoyed in her recent adventures will not be there. Nor should Turkey look to the past and expect an easy victory, the Greek Army will not be marching deep into Anatolia this time, (which was the wrong type of war for Greece).

So what happens if they actually take it to war?

The larger Greek islands are well defended, they won't be taken, but defending the smaller ones is hard and Turkey will probably grab some of those. The Greeks, who have absolute control and dominance in the Aegean will do several things. Turkish naval and air bases along the Aegean coastline will be attacked as will the bosphorus bridges, (those bridges WILL go down). The Greek army, which is positioned well, will blitz into eastern Thrace and stop outside Istanbul where they will dig in and shell the city, thereby causing the civilians to flee and clogging up the tunnels to restrict military re-enforcement.

That's Greece acting alone, a position will be achieved where any captured islands will be traded for eastern Thrace. Should the French intervene, (even if it's just air and naval forces), it gets a lot more interesting.

The mighty Turkish fleet was just met by the entire Greek navy in the latest stand-off, it was enough to cause Turkey to reconsider her options. There will be no Ottoman empire 2.0

OliverAnd , 9 hours ago

The Greeks need their navy for surgically precise attacks against Turkey's navy. Every island, especially the large ones are unsinkable aircraft carriers. No one has mentioned in any article that Turkey's navy is functioning with less than minimum required personnel. No one has mentioned that their air force is flying with Pakistani pilots. The only way Turks will land on Greek uninhabited islands is only if they are ship wrecked and that for a very very short period of time. Turkey's population is composed of 25% Kurds... that will also be very interesting to see once they awaken from their hibernation and realize their great and holy goal of Kurdistan. Egypt will not waste the opportunity to join in to devastate whatever Turkish navy remains. Serbian patriots will not allow the opportunity to go to waste and will attack Kosovo and indirectly Albania composed primarily of Turkish descendants... realize the coverage lately of how the US did wrong for supporting these degenerate Muslim Albanians.

I have no doubt Greeks will make it to Aghia Sophia but will not pass Bosporus. The result will be a Treaty that is a hybrid of the Treaty of Lausanne and the Treaty of Sevron. If the Albanians decide to support the Turks by attacking Greeks in the North and in Northern Epeirus they should expect annexation of Northern Epeirus to Greece. Erdogan bases his bullying on Trump's incompetences and false friendship. This is why America is non existent in any of these regions. If Trump wins the election it will be a long war and very destabilized for the region. If Trump loses the war will be much much quicker. The outcome will remain the same. The Russians will not allow Turkey to dictate in the area. Israel will not allow Turkey to dictate in the area. Egypt will not allow Turkey to dictate in the area. Not even European Union. UK is the questionable.

bobcatz , 2 hours ago

And the US in the Middle East is not????????

ALL MidEast terrorism, shenanigans, and warmongering are for APARTHEID Israhell.

Joy Division , 7 hours ago

The West has Turkey's back otherwise the Turkish currency the Turkish Lira would have collapsed by now under attacks from the City of London Freemasonic Talmudic bankers.

Remember what happened to the Russian Rouble when Russia annexed Crimea?

The Fed and the ECB in cahoots with the usual Talmudic interests, are supporting the Turkish Lira and propping up the Erdogan regime.

There is NO OTHER explanation.

The Turks have NO foreign currency reserves, no net positive euro nor dollar reserves. Their tourism industry and main hard currency generator has COLLAPSED (hotels are 95 percent empty). The Turkish central bank has resorted to STEALING Turkish citizens' dollar-denominated bank accounts via raising Turkish Banks' foreign currency reserve requirements which the Turkish central bank SPENDS upon receipt to buy TLs and prop up the Turkish Lira.

This is utter MADNESS and FRAUD and LARCENY.

London-based currency traders would be all over the Turkish Lira and/or Turkish bonds and stocks by now UNLESS they had been instructed by the Fed and the ECB or the Talmudic bankers that own and control both, to lay off the Turkish Lira.

Despite the noise on TV or the press,

BY DEFINITION,

Erdogan and the Turks are only doing the bidding of the TRIBE hence Erdogan has the blessing and the protection of the people ZH censors the name.

BUT

You know how those parasites treat their host and what the inevitable outcome is, right?

Indeed,

Erdogan and the Turks are being set up to be thrown under the proverbial bus at the appropriate time.

The Neo-Ottoman Sultan has inadvertently set up his (ill begotten) country for eventual destruction and partition. The Kurds will get a piece of it. Who knows, maybe even the Armenians will be able to recover some bits of their ancient homeland.

Greeks in Constantinople? Nothing is impossible thanks to the hubris and chutzpah of Erdogan who is purported to have "Amish" blood himself.

Know thyself , 5 hours ago

Good for the UK that they have left the EU.

Apart from the Greeks, who would be fighting for their lives and homeland, the only EU forces capable of acting are the French. German does not have an operative army or navy; Italy, Spain and Portugal have neglected their armed forces for many years, and the Baltic and Eastern Nations are unlikely to want to get involved. The Netherlands have very good forces but not many of them.

MPJones , 7 hours ago

We can live in hope. Erdogan certainly seems to need external enemies to hold the country together. Let us also hope that Erdogan's adventurism finally wakes up Europe to the reality of the ongoing Muslim invasion so that the necessary Muslim repatriation can get going without the bloodshed which Islam's current strategy in Europe will otherwise inevitably lead to.

Know thyself , 5 hours ago

The Turkish army is a conscript army. They will need to be whipped up with religious fervour to perform. Otherwise they will look after their own skins.

But remember that the Turks put up a good defence in the Dardanelles in the First World War.

HorseBuggy , 9 hours ago

What do you expect? He killed Russian fighter pilots and he survived, this empowers terrorists like him. Those pilots were the only ones at that time fighting ISIS. May they RIP.

Max.Power , 9 hours ago

Turkey is in a "proud" group of failed empires surrounded by nations they severely abused less than 100 years ago.

Other two are Germany and Japan. Any military aggression from their side will be met with rage by a coalition of nations.

US position will be irrelevant at this point, because local historical grievances will overweight anything else.

monty42 , 10 hours ago

"Libya has been in turmoil since 2011, when an armed revolt during the "Arab Spring" led to the ouster and murder of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Political power in the country..."

Kinda gave yourself away there. The coordinated assault on Libya by the US, Britain, France, and their Al-CiA-da allies on the ground resulted in the torture, sodomizing, and murder of Gaddafi, as well as his son and grandchildren killed in bombings by the US.

Also, let's not forget that Turkey is still in NATO, and their actions in Syria were alongside the US regime and terrorist proxies labeled "moderate rebels". The same terrorists originally used in Libya, then shipped to destroy Syria, now flown back to Libya. The attempt to paint all of those things as Turkey's actions alone is not honest.

When Turkey isn't in NATO anymore, let me know.

TheZeitgeist , 10 hours ago

Don't forget that Hiftar guy Turks are fighting in Libya was a CIA toadie living in Virginia for a decade before they gave him his "chance" to among other things become a client of the Russians apparently. Flustercluck of the 1st order everywhere one looks.

monty42 , 10 hours ago

Then they put on this whole production where it's the CIA guy or the terrorist puppet regime they installed, so that the rulers win regardless of the outcome. The victims are those caught up in their sick game.

GalustGulbenkyan , 9 hours ago

Turkish population has been recently getting ****** due to the economic contractions and devaluation of the Lira. Once Turkey starts fighting against a real army the Turks will realize that they are going to be ****** by larger dildos. In 1990's they sent thousands of volunteers to Nagorno Karabagh to fight against irregular Armenian forces and we know how that ended for them. Greeks and Egyptians are not the Kurds. Erdogan is a lot of hot air and empty threats. You can't win wars with Modern drones which even Armenians have learned how to jam and shoot down with old 1970's soviet tech.

Guentzburgh , 5 hours ago

Greece should be aligned with Russia, EU and USA are a bad choice that Greece will regret.

Greece needs to pivot towards Russia which will open huge opportunities for both countries

KoalaWalla , 6 hours ago

Greeks are bitter and prideful - they would not only defend themselves if attacked but would counter attack to reclaim land they've lost. But, I don't know that Erdogan is clever enough to realize this.

60s Man , 9 hours ago

Turkey is America's Mini Me.

currency , 3 hours ago

Erdogan is in Trouble at home declining economy and his radical conservative/Thug type policies. Turks are moving away from him except the hard core radicals and conservatives. He and his family are Corrupt - they rule with threats and use of THUGS. Sense his constant wars may be over stretched Time for a Turkish Spring.

Time for US, Nato and etc. to say goodbye to this THUG

OrazioGentile , 7 hours ago

Turkey seems to be on a warpath to imploding from within. Erdogan looks like a desperate despot with a failing economy, failing political clout, and failing modernization of his Country. Like any despot, he has to rally the troops or he will literally be a dead man walking.

HorseBuggy , 9 hours ago

The world fears loud obnoxious tyrants and Erdogan is the loudest tyrant since Hitler. Remember how countries pandered to Hitler early on? Same thing is happening with Erdogan.

This terrorist will do a lot more damage than he has already before the world wakes up.

By the time Hitler was done, 70 million people were dead, what will Erdogan cause?

OliverAnd , 9 hours ago

Turkey is not Germany. Not by far. Erdogan may be a bigger lunatic than Hitler, but Turkey is not Germany of the 30's. Without military equipment/parts from Germany, Italy, Spain, France, USA, and UK he cannot even build a nail. Economies are very integrated; he will be disposed of very very quickly. He has been warned. He is running out of lives.

NewNeo , 9 hours ago

You should research a lot more. Turkey is a lot more power thank Nazi Germany of the 1930's. Turkey currently have brand new US made equipment. It even houses the nuclear arsenal of NATO.

You should probably look at information from stratfor and George Friedman to give you a better understanding.

The failed coupe a few years ago was because the lunatic had gone off the reservation and was seen as a threat to the region. Obviously the bankers thought it in their benefit to keep him going and tipped him off.

OliverAnd , 8 hours ago

Clearly the lockdown has hindered your already illiteracy. Turkey has modern US equipment. Germany did not need US equipment. They made their own equipment; in fact both the US and USSR used Grrman old tech to develop future tech.

The coup was designed by Erdogan to bring himself to full power. When this is all done he will be responsible for millions of Turkish lives; after all he is not a Turk but a Muslim Pontian.

[Jul 19, 2020] The Shale Bust Has Arrived

Jul 19, 2020 | neznaika-nalune.livejournal.com


1. Shale bust is here
- Shale wells decline somewhere between 70 and 90 percent from their initial peak within 3 years, with the bulk of that decline coming within the first 12 months.
- As a result, the pause in drilling quickly translates into U.S. oil production declines.
- "We just have no new drilling and these decline curves are going to catch up," Mark Rossano, founder and chief executive officer of private-equity firm C6 Capital Holdings LLC, told Bloomberg. "That hits really fast when you're not looking at new production."
- With no drilling at all, U.S. shale oil production would theoretically fall by more than a third to less than 5 mb/d by the end of the year.

2. Bankruptcies to spike
- Between 2015 and 2019, there were roughly 200 bankruptcies in the North American oil and gas sector.
- Through April of this year, there have been another 7 bankruptcies, according to Haynes and Boone, although the value of the debt involved is 2.8 times larger compared to the first quarter bankruptcies in 2019.
- Around 70 companies are on track for bankruptcy by the end of the year with WTI averaging $30 per barrel, according to Rystad Energy. If WTI remains stuck at $30, that total would rise to 150 to 200 by the end of 2021.
- "In our view, we will need WTI prices of $40 to $45 per barrel to eliminate the upcoming explosion in the number of financially distressed US E&Ps,
https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/The-Shale-Bust-Has-Arrived.html

[Jul 13, 2020] Fracking Firms Fail, Rewarding Executives and Raising Climate Fears

Jul 13, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Jul 13 2020 13:46 utc | 176

It's now canonized in American public opinion, as the NYT has published an authorial article (in the pedantic upper middle class I-wanna-win-a-Pulitzer style) about it:

Fracking Firms Fail, Rewarding Executives and Raising Climate Fears

[Jul 03, 2020] Fracking: From Revolution to Money Pit

Highly recommended!
See original for the video. it is definitely worth to watch in full. Essentially this is a reset of Art Berman's maxim "Shale is a retirement party for the oil industry"
This is about Wall street manipulation, not so much about technology. It's an indictment of our screwed-up system of Finance
Jul 02, 2020 | www.bloomberg.com
For most any nation, let alone a superpower, energy independence is considered the geopolitical holy grail. So when fracking lured in American investors, everyone had high hopes the country would finally break free of OPEC. But oil is a complex game, and 2020 saw sharp declines in demand caused by the cartel's maneuvering, shale oil's oversupply, and now the devastating effects of the coronavirus. What's worse, the startup mentality of the U.S. fracking industry promised investors mythical growth and nonexistent returns. In the end, it burned a $340 billion hole in Wall Street's pocket. (Source: Bloomberg)

[May 25, 2020] US oil companies are cutting production much faster than expected -- RT Business News

Notable quotes:
"... "Well, I think it's automatic. Because they're already cutting. I mean, if you look, they're cutting back. Because it's it's market. It's demand. It's supply and demand. They're already cutting back, and they're cutting back very seriously," ..."
May 25, 2020 | www.rt.com

The United States is on track to cut 1.7 million barrels of oil production per day, according to Reuters calculations of state and company data shared on Thursday. It was US President Donald Trump that suggested at the beginning of April, prior to the most recent OPEC deal signing that the United States would cut its oil output as a natural response to the worsening market conditions. The statement was not initially good enough for OPEC, who wanted more of a commitment from the world's largest producer and consumer of crude oil.

"Well, I think it's automatic. Because they're already cutting. I mean, if you look, they're cutting back. Because it's it's market. It's demand. It's supply and demand. They're already cutting back, and they're cutting back very seriously," US President Trump said at a press briefing early last month.

OPEC+ eventually agreed to cut production by 9.7 million bpd -- a landmark figure that is significantly larger than previous OPEC cuts in recent years. Its non-OPEC allies who partnered with OPEC in the deal pledged to cut an additional 10 million bpd. Also on rt.com OPEC+ strikes last-minute deal to cut almost 10 mn barrels a day of oil production

US Energy Secretary said last month that the DoE expected that production in the United States would fall by between two and three million bpd by the end of the year -- it appears the cuts have come even quicker than the department expected.

The need for the production cuts grew more evident as the United States shut down nearly all activity in an attempt to flatten that curve of infections that sought to overwhelm the country's healthcare system. Doing so, however, has idled much of the economy and crippled demand -- and as such, its oil and gas industry that fuels that economy.

READ MORE: The shale suffering has only just begun

The cuts from US producers may seek to quiet the disgruntlement of OPEC and Russia, in particular, who expressed their displeasure that the US would not require its producers to curb production. After all, the US shale industry has benefited greatly from previous rounds of OPEC cuts.

[May 21, 2020] The 'Clean Break' Doctrine OffGuardian

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm ..."
"... "the right to plunder anything one can get their hands on" ..."
"... "the UK and France in March 2011 which led the international community to support an intervention in Libya to protect civilians from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi" ..."
May 21, 2020 | off-guardian.org

n 1996 a task force, led by Richard Perle, produced a policy document titled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm for Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then in his first term as Prime Minister of Israel, as a how-to manual on approaching regime change in the Middle East and for the destruction of the Oslo Accords.

The "Clean Break" policy document outlined these goals:

Ending Yasser Arafat's and the Palestinian Authority's political influence, by blaming them for acts of Palestinian terrorism Inducing the United States to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Launching war against Syria after Saddam's regime is disposed of. Followed by military action against Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

"Clean Break" was also in direct opposition to the Oslo Accords, to which Netanyahu was very much itching to obliterate. The Oslo II Accord was signed just the year before, on September 28th 1995, in Taba, Egypt.

During the Oslo Accord peace process, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu accused Rabin's government of being "removed from Jewish tradition and Jewish values." Rallies organised by the Likud and other right-wing fundamentalist groups featured depictions of Rabin in a Nazi SS uniform or in the crosshairs of a gun.

In July 1995, Netanyahu went so far as to lead a mock funeral procession for Rabin, featuring a coffin and hangman's noose.

The Oslo Accords was the initiation of a process which was to lead to a peace treaty based on the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and at fulfilling the "right of the Palestinian people to self-determination." If such a peace treaty were to occur, with the United States backing, it would have prevented much of the mayhem that has occurred since.

However, the central person to ensuring this process, Yitzak Rabin, was assassinated just a month and a half after the signing of the Oslo II Accord, on November 4th, 1995. Netanyahu became prime minister of Israel seven months later. "Clean Break" was produced the following year.

On November 6th, 2000 in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, who was the chief negotiator of the Oslo peace accords, warned those Israelis who argued that it was impossible to make peace with the Palestinians:

Zionism was founded in order to save Jews from persecution and anti-Semitism, and not in order to offer them a Jewish Sparta or – God forbid – a new Massada."

On Oct. 5, 2003, for the first time in 30 years, Israel launched bombing raids against Syria, targeting a purported "Palestinian terrorist camp" inside Syrian territory. Washington stood by and did nothing to prevent further escalation.

"Clean Break" was officially launched in March 2003 with the war against Iraq, under the pretence of "The War on Terror". The real agenda was a western-backed list of regime changes in the Middle East to fit the plans of the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Israel.

However, the affair is much more complicated than that with each player holding their own "idea" of what the "plan" is. Before we can fully appreciate such a scope, we must first understand what was Sykes-Picot and how did it shape today's world mayhem.

Arabian Nights

WWI was to officially start July 28th 1914, almost immediately following the Balkan wars (1912-1913) which had greatly weakened the Ottoman Empire.

Never one to miss an opportunity when smelling fresh blood, the British were very keen on acquiring what they saw as strategic territories for the taking under the justification of being in war-time, which in the language of geopolitics translates to "the right to plunder anything one can get their hands on" .

The brilliance of Britain's plan to garner these new territories was not to fight the Ottoman Empire directly but rather, to invoke an internal rebellion from within. These Arab territories would be encouraged by Britain to rebel for their independence from the Ottoman Empire and that Britain would support them in this cause.

These Arab territories were thus led to believe that they were fighting for their own freedom when, in fact, they were fighting for British and secondarily French colonial interests.

In order for all Arab leaders to sign on to the idea of rebelling against the Ottoman Sultan, there needed to be a viable leader that was Arab, for they certainly would not agree to rebel at the behest of Britain.

Lord Kitchener, the butcher of Sudan, was to be at the helm of this operation as Britain's Minister of War. Kitchener's choice for Arab leadership was the scion of the Hashemite dynasty, Hussein ibn Ali, known as the Sherif of Mecca who ruled the region of Hejaz under the Ottoman Sultan.

Hardinge of the British India Office disagreed with this choice and wanted Wahhabite Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud instead, however, Lord Kitchener overruled this stating that their intelligence revealed that more Arabs would follow Hussein.

Since the Young Turk Revolution which seized power of the Ottoman government in 1908, Hussein was very aware that his dynasty was in no way guaranteed and thus he was open to Britain's invitation to crown him King of the Arab kingdom.

Kitchener wrote to one of Hussein's sons, Abdallah, as reassurance of Britain's support:

If the Arab nation assist England in this war that has been forced upon us by Turkey, England will guarantee that no internal intervention take place in Arabia, and will give Arabs every assistance against foreign aggression."

Sir Henry McMahon who was the British High Commissioner to Egypt, would have several correspondences with Sherif Hussein between July 1915 to March 1916 to convince Hussein to lead the rebellion for the "independence" of the Arab states.

However, in a private letter to India's Viceroy Charles Hardinge sent on December 4th, 1915, McMahon expressed a rather different view of what the future of Arabia would be, contrary to what he had led Sherif Hussein to believe:

[I do not take] the idea of a future strong united independent Arab State too seriously the conditions of Arabia do not and will not for a very long time to come, lend themselves to such a thing."

Such a view meant that Arabia would be subject to Britain's heavy-handed "advising" in all its affairs, whether it sought it or not.

In the meantime, Sherif Hussein was receiving dispatches issued by the British Cairo office to the effect that the Arabs of Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia (Iraq) would be given independence guaranteed by Britain, if they rose up against the Ottoman Empire.

The French were understandably suspicious of Britain's plans for these Arab territories. The French viewed Palestine, Lebanon and Syria as intrinsically belonging to France, based on French conquests during the Crusades and their "protection" of the Catholic populations in the region.

Hussein was adamant that Beirut and Aleppo were to be given independence and completely rejected French presence in Arabia. Britain was also not content to give the French all the concessions they demanded as their "intrinsic" colonial rights.

Enter Sykes and Picot.

... ... ...

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s violent confrontations between Jews and Arabs took place in Palestine costing hundreds of lives. In 1936 a major Arab revolt occurred over 7 months, until diplomatic efforts involving other Arab countries led to a ceasefire.

In 1937, a British Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by William Peel concluded that Palestine had two distinct societies with irreconcilable political demands, thus making it necessary to partition the land.

The Arab Higher Committee refused Peel's "prescription" and the revolt broke out again. This time, Britain responded with a devastatingly heavy hand. Roughly 5,000 Arabs were killed by the British armed forces and police. Following the riots, the British mandate government dissolved the Arab Higher Committee and declared it an illegal body.

In response to the revolt, the British government issued the White Paper of 1939, which stated that Palestine should be a bi-national state, inhabited by both Arabs and Jews.

Due to the international unpopularity of the mandate including within Britain itself, it was organised such that the United Nations would take responsibility for the British initiative and adopted the resolution to partition Palestine on November 29th, 1947.

Britain would announce its termination of its Mandate for Palestine on May 15th, 1948 after the State of Israel declared its independence on May 14th, 1948.

A New Strategy for Securing Whose Realm?

Despite what its title would have you believe, "Clean Break" is neither a "new strategy" nor meant for "securing" anything. It is also not the brainchild of fanatical neo-conservatives: Dick Cheney and Richard Perle, nor even that of crazed end-of-days fundamentalist Benjamin Netanyahu, but rather has the very distinct and lingering odour of the British Empire.

"Clean Break" is a continuation of Britain's geopolitical game, and just as it used France during the Sykes-Picot days it is using the United States and Israel.

The role Israel has found itself playing in the Middle East could not exist if it were not for over 30 years of direct British occupation in Palestine and its direct responsibility for the construction of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which set a course for destruction and endless war in this region long before Israel ever existed.

It was also Britain who officially launched operation "Clean Break" by directly and fraudulently instigating an illegal war against Iraq to which the Chilcot Inquiry, aka Iraq Inquiry , released 7 years later, attests to.

This was done by the dubious reporting by British Intelligence setting the pretext for the U.S.' ultimate invasion into Iraq based off of fraudulent and forged evidence provided by GCHQ, unleashing the "War on Terror", aka "Clean Break" outline for regime change in the Middle East.

In addition, the Libyan invasion in 2011 was also found to be unlawfully instigated by Britain.

In a report published by the British Foreign Affairs Committee in September 2016, it was concluded that it was "the UK and France in March 2011 which led the international community to support an intervention in Libya to protect civilians from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi" .

The report concluded that the Libyan intervention was based on false pretence provided by British Intelligence and recklessly promoted by the British government.

If this were not enough, British Intelligence has also been caught behind the orchestrations of Russia-Gate and the Skripal affair .

Therefore, though the U.S. and Israeli military have done a good job at stealing the show, and though they certainly believe themselves to be the head of the show, the reality is that this age of empire is distinctly British and anyone who plays into this game will ultimately be playing for said interests, whether they are aware of it or not.

Originally published by Strategic Culture


Almondson ,

Yossi B said:

Zionism was founded in order to save Jews from persecution and anti-Semitism

Ever heard of Dumbo? He's a flying elephant.

The crusade in the ME will continue, with Israel the top dog until America's military support is no longer there. Even without the Israeli eastern european invaders, the area is primed for perpetual tribal warfare because the masses are driven by tribalist doctrines and warped metaphysics dictated by insane and inhumane parasites (priests). It is the epicenter of a spiritual plague that has infected most of the planet.

paul ,

There is complete continuity between the activities of Zionist controlled western countries and those of the present day.

In the 1930s, there were about 300,000 adult Palestinian males. Over 10% were killed, imprisoned and tortured or driven into exile. 100,000 British troops were sent to Palestine to destroy completely Palestinian political and military organisations. Wingate set up the Jew terror gangs who were given free rein to murder, rape and burn, in preparation for the complete ethnic cleansing of the country.

We see the same ruthless, genocidal brutality on an even greater scale in the present day, serving exactly the same interests. Nothing has ever come of trying to negotiate with the Zionists and their western stooges – just further disasters. It is only resolute and uncompromising resistance that has ever achieved anything. Hezbollah kicking their Zionist arses out of Lebanon in 2000 and keeping them out in 2006. Had they not done so, Lebanon would still be under Zionist occupation and covered with their filthy illegal settlements.

They have never stopped and they never will. The objective is to create a vast Zionist empire comprising the whole of Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, and parts of Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. This plan has never changed and it never will. The Zionist thieves will shortly steal what little is left of Palestine. But the thieving will not end there. It will just move on to neighbouring countries.

The prime reason they have been able to get away with this is not their control of British and US golems. It is by playing the old, dirty colonial games of divide and rule, with the Quisling stooge dictators serving their interests. They have always been able to set Sunni against Shia, and different factions against others. The dumb Arabs fall for it every time. Their latest intrigues are directed at the destruction of Iran, the next victim on their target list after Iraq, Libya and Syria. And the Quisling dictators of Saudi Arabia are openly agitating for this and offering to pay for all of it. Syria sent troops to join the US invasion of Iraq in 1991, though Iraqi troops fought and died in Syria in 1973 against Israel. Egypt allows Israel to use its airspace to carry out the genocidal terror bombing of Gaza.

All this is contemptible enough and fits into racist stereotypes of Arabs as stupid, irrational, corrupt, easily bought, violent and treacherous. This of course does not apply to the populations of those countries, but it is a legitimate assessment of their Quisling dictators, with a (very) few honourable exceptions.

Seamus Padraig ,

Of course, Arab rulers who don't tow the Zionist line generally get overthrown, don't they? And that usually requires the efforts/intervention of FUKUS, doesn't it? So you can't really pretend that 'Arab stupidity' is the main factor.

Richard Le Sarc ,

The fact that, as the Yesha Council of Rabbis and Torah Sages declared in 2006, as Israel was bombing Lebanon 'back to the Stone Age', under Talmudic Judaism, killing civilians is not just permissible, but a mitzvah, or good deed, explains Zionist behaviour. Other doctrines allow an entire 'city' eg Gaza, to be devastated for the 'crimes' of a few, and children, even babies, to be killed if they would grow up to 'oppose the Jews'. Dare mention these FACTS, seen everyday in Israeli barbarity, and the 'antisemitism' slurs flow, as ever.

Julia ,

" is that this age of empire is distinctly British"

.it takes some balls to make such an absurd statement and still expect to be taken seriously. The US of course with its 800 military bases around the world and gifts of 40 billion a year to Israel has no opinion on the future of the Middle East. You would have us believe that they are just humble onlookers, as a small bankrupt country tells them what to do. We are being told that the CIA, the most formidable spy agency and manipulator of countries in history, sits quietly by as the British and Israel tells the US what to do.
Absurd isn't it., Clearly the truth is that Israel is just another military base for the US in the Middle East, easily the most important geopolitical region in the world. They fund it, arm it, and protect it from all attacks, Israel does as it is told by the US for the most part despite the pantomime on the surface.
Many on the far right like to hide US interests behind a wall of antisemitism that likes to paint 'the jews' as an all powerful enemy but this is just cover for Israel's real geopolitical roll as a US puppet.
Time and time again all we are seeing is attempt to write the US, the largest empire in the history out of the news and out of the history books, like it is some invisible benign force that has not interests, no control and does noting to forward it's interests and it's empire.

''To find out who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise."

I don't know about you, but I'm not 10 years old and I know I am looking at Empire and it's power being flexed every day in every part do the world, especial in the parts of the world that it funds with trillions of dollars.

Julia ,

" is that this age of empire is distinctly British"

.it takes some balls to make such an absurd statement and still expect to be taken seriously. The US of course with its 800 military bases around the world and gifts of 40 billion a year to Israel has no opinion on the future of the Middle East. You would have us believe that they are just humble onlookers, as a small bankrupt country tells them what to do. We are being told that the CIA, the most formidable spy agency and manipulator of countries in history, sits quietly by as the British and Israel tells the US what to do.
Absurd isn't it., Clearly the truth is that Israel is just another military base for the US in the Middle East, easily the most important geopolitical region in the world. They fund it, arm it, and protect it from all attacks, Israel does as it is told by the US for the most part despite the pantomime on the surface.
Many on the far right like to hide US interests behind a wall of antisemitism that likes to paint 'the jews' as an all powerful enemy but this is just cover for Israel's real geopolitical roll as a US puppet.
Time and time again all we are seeing is attempt to write the US, the largest empire in the history out of the news and out of the history books, like it is some invisible benign force that has not interests, no control and does noting to forward it's interests and it's empire.

''To find out who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise."

I don't know about you, but I'm not 10 years old and I know I am looking at Empire and it's power being flexed every day in every part do the world, especial in the parts of the world that it funds with trillions of dollars.

Richard Le Sarc ,

The antithesis of the truth. It is US politicians who flock to AIPAC's meeting every year to pledge UNDYING fealty to Israel, not Israeli politicians pledging loyalty to the USA. It is Israeli and dual loyalty Jewish oligarchs funding BOTH US parties, it is US politicians throwing themselves to the ground in adulation when Bibi the war criminal addresses the Congress with undisguised contempt, not Israeli politicians groveling to the USA. The master-servant relationship is undisguised.

Pyewacket ,

In Daniel Yergin's The Prize, a history of the Oil industry, he provides another interesting angle to explain British interest in the region. He states that at that time, Churchill realised that a fighting Navy powered by Coal, was not nearly as good or efficient as one using Oil as a fuel, and that securing supplies of the stuff was the best way forward to protect the Empire.

BigB ,

Yergin would be right. The precursor of the First World War was a technological arms race and accelerated 'scientific' perfection of arsenals – particularly naval – in the service of imperialism. British and German imperialism. The full story involves the Berlin to Cairo railway and the resource grab that went with it. I'm a bit sketchy on the details now: but Churchill had a prominent role, rising to First Lord of the Admiralty.

Docherty and Macgregor have exposed the hidden history. F W Engdahl has written about WW1 being the first oil war.

Andreas Schlüter ,

And don´t forget which of the US Military command regions into which the US Military divided the WHOLE World is named "US CENTCOM"!
„One Thing Must be Clear to the World: The US Power Elite Regards the Whole Globe as Their Colony!": https://wipokuli.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/one-thing-must-be-clear-to-the-world-the-us-power-elite-regards-the-whole-globe-as-their-colony/

Antonym ,

In 1996 a task force, led by Richard Perle, produced a policy document titled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm for Benjamin Netanyahu

No source link for this!

By the way 1996 was during the Clinton administration. Warren Christopher was secretary of state and John Deutch was the Director of Central Intelligence . George Tenet was appointed the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence in July 1995. After John Deutch's abrupt resignation in December 1996, Tenet served as acting director.

Reg ,

Here you go, sonny boy

http://www.dougfeith.com/docs/Clean_Break.pdf

Richard Le Sarc ,

Antsie, what are you going to deny next? The USS Liberty? Deir Yassin? The Lavon Affair? Sabra, Shatilla? Qana (twice)? The Five Celebrating Israelis on 9/11?Does not impress.

[May 20, 2020] Trump administration behaviour is the byproduct of having too much money and not enough brain

May 07, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , May 7 2020 19:17 utc | 13

"..all of these tin pot dictatorship oil rich countries are really a sick bunch.... i guess it is the byproduct off having too much money and not enough brains..

@james@ 3

karlofi beat me to it james - or were you referring to Alberta?

[May 20, 2020] A huge fleet of 117 tankers is bringing super cheap crude to China

May 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

vot tak , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 5:01 am GMT

A huge fleet of 117 tankers is bringing super cheap crude to China

https://www.rt.com/business/488927-china-buys-super-cheap-oil/

"At present, a total of 117 very large crude carriers (VLCCs) -- each capable of shipping 2 million barrels of oil -- are traveling to China for unloading at its ports between the middle of May and the middle of August. If those supertankers transport standard-size crude oil cargoes, it could mean that China expects at least 230 million barrels of oil over the next three months, according to Bloomberg. The fleet en route to China could be the largest number of supertankers traveling to the world's top oil importer at one time, ever, Bloomberg News' Firat Kayakiran says.

Many of the crude oil cargoes are likely to have been bought in April, when prices were lower than the current price and when WTI Crude futures even dipped into negative territory for a day.

Last month, emerging from the coronavirus lockdown, China's oil refiners were already buying ultra-cheap spot cargoes from Alaska, Canada, and Brazil, taking advantage of the deep discounts at which many crude grades were being offered to China with non-existent demand elsewhere. ( https://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/Chinese-Bargain-Hunters-Are-Stucking-Up-On-Ultra-Cheap-Crude-Oil.html )

China was also estimated to have doubled the fill rate at its strategic and commercial inventories in Q1 2020, taking advantage of the low oil prices and somewhat supporting the oil market amid crashing demand by diverting more imports to storage, rather than outright slashing crude imports.

China's crude oil imports jumped in April to about 9.84 million barrels per day as demand for fuels began to rebound and local refiners started to ramp up crude processing, according to Chinese customs data cited by Reuters."

Well, now we know who was taking advantage of those pindo negative oil price sales ;-D

The Chinese are at the advantage here, not being neocon/likud bottom rungers. The desperation of zionazia is expressed in choosing the neocon lowlife to run things in the western colonies. Yes, their extremism provides the initiative in getting extreme capitalist policies through and continues the push to the extreme far right in the zionazi-gay colonies. But it is at the cost of intelligent long term strategy. Short term imaginary gain at the cost of real gain. The fast food, face feeding, bum bandit approach. The quick fixers.

[May 16, 2020] "A Seller's Market for Bankruptcy Talent:" The Beginning of the End of Methane-Producing Fracking? by Juan Cole

Mar 17, 2020 | www.truthdig.com
On Monday, the price of West Texas Intermediate petroleum fell below $30 a barrel for the first time in four years. Elliot Smith at CNBC reports that BP CFO Brian Gilvary is braced for petroleum demand actually to contract in 2020.

This prediction is very bad news for US fracking firms, most of which need a price point of from $40 to $60 a barrel to make their hydraulic fracturing method of oil production profitable.

In the Democratic primary debate on Sunday, Bernie Sanders pledged to ban fracking entirely, and even Joe Biden said no new fracking would be allowed. Fracking may be moribund anyway by November, and if a Democrat wins the presidency, the industry may never recover.

Not only is petroleum likely headed way below that profitability floor, but many energy firms involved with fracking are deeply in debt, and had taken out the debts with their petroleum fields as collateral. Since their collateral is worth only half what it used to be, the banks will call in their loans. Other energy firms involved in fracking have held significant assets in their own stocks, the price of which just zoomed to earth like a crashing meteor.

Reuters observed,

Fracking has been banned by countries such as France, and by states such as New York because it is highly polluting, leaving behind ponds of toxic water. Moreover, research has demonstrated that the process of fracking, which involves pumping water under high pressure underground to break up rocks and release oil or natural gas, causes gargantuan methane emissions that had earlier been underestimated as much as 45% . The methane in the atmosphere is burgeoning, and scientists had puzzled over why. But scientists have fingered the culprit: fracking. Methane is 80 times as potent a heat-trapping gas as carbon dioxide over two decades, and carbon dioxide is no slouch. A quarter of the global heating effect of greenhouse gas emissions put out by humans burning fossil fuels is owing to methane emissions. Rapid heating is melting the North and South Poles, causing sea level rise that will soon be calamitous.

Given that the world population is increasing and that developing countries such as China and India and Indonesia are seeing more and more people abandoning their bicycles or bus rides for mopeds or automobile ownership, for the world to want less petroleum this year than it did last is extremely unusual.

We are getting a preview courtesy COVID-19 of what will happen through the next decade and a half as electric vehicles take off, significantly reducing demand.

The world produces about $100 million barrels of petroleum a day, and given the Saudi determination to expand production starting on April 1, it could be producing 102 million barrels a day later this spring. The world may only want 90 mn. barrels a day this spring. What with the novel coronavirus pandemic, fewer trucks and cars will be on the road. Petroleum is largely used for transportation fuel.

Do you know what happens if demand falls and production increases? The price falls. In fact, it doesn't just fall. It collapses. It takes a deep dive. It falls off a cliff. It craters deep beneath the earth's crust.

How steep the fall is depends in part on whether Saudi Arabia and Russia keep playing chicken. Saudi Arabia wants to discipline Moscow, which rejected OPEC + production quotas aimed at reducing supply and supporting a $60 per barrel price. So Riyadh is opening the spigots, upping its production by two million barrels a day. Saudi Aramco says it is comfortable with a price point of $30 a barrel. But unfortunately for Aramco, the price may not have stopped falling.

Andreas de Vries at Oilspot.com believes the price could fall to as little as $10 a barrel later this spring. In 2019 the price tended to be around $60 a barrel.

The fossil fuel companies that lack deep pockets could well just fail this year. Brenda Sapino Jeffreys quotes Jason Cohen, an attorney at Bracewell in Houston, as saying of the oil industry, "There is, I'd say, a sellers market for bankruptcy talent." His observation gave me my title.

This steep decline in stock prices and oil prices comes on top of a 5-year run in which the market has destroyed 90% of the value of US investor stocks in oil services. That is, we could this year be entering an oil market crisis as severe as the Asian banking crash of 1997-1998 .

The difference is that by the time fossil fuels come out of their economic doldrums, renewables will have stolen a further march on them. From here on in, hydrocarbons are beginning their death spiral. Friends don't let friends invest in petroleum companies, and nobody should have those stocks in their retirement accounts– if they want ever to retire.

[May 05, 2020] The oil business in America is going to take a very long time to recover.

May 05, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Oilman2 , 04 May 2020 at 01:54 PM

Colonel, you are NOT wrong. The oil business in America is going to take a very long time to recover. There are complete shutterings of businesses, bankruptcies and more - all while we were in the middle of a downturn. Personally, I just folded up my tent because my my active client list went from 21 to zero over this last month (and that includes intl clients).

As the number one buyer of US steel, the oilpatch represents much more than people realize. We have also been the number one buyer of many other items - where sales have disappeared as company quietly and reluctantly face the reality of the current induced glut.

I'm being forced to change livelihoods - interesting for me, as I am short of the age to get my SS check and too old to employ by most corporate masters....

[May 02, 2020] Special Report Trump told Saudis Cut oil supply or lose U.S. military support - sources

May 02, 2020 | www.msn.com

WASHINGTON/LONDON/DUBAI - As the United States pressed Saudi Arabia to end its oil price war with Russia, President Donald Trump gave Saudi leaders an ultimatum.

In an April 2 phone call, Trump told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that unless the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) started cutting oil production, he would be powerless to stop lawmakers from passing legislation to withdraw U.S. troops from the kingdom, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The threat to upend a 75-year strategic alliance, which has not been previously reported, was central to the U.S. pressure campaign that led to a landmark global deal to slash oil supply as demand collapsed in the coronavirus pandemic - scoring a diplomatic victory for the White House.

Trump delivered the message to the crown prince 10 days before the announcement of production cuts. The kingdom's de facto leader was so taken aback by the threat that he ordered his aides out of the room so he could continue the discussion in private, according to a U.S. source who was briefed on the discussion by senior administration officials.

The effort illustrated Trump's strong desire to protect the U.S. oil industry from a historic price meltdown as governments shut down economies worldwide to fight the virus. It also reflected a telling reversal of Trump's longstanding criticism of the oil cartel, which he has blasted for raising energy costs for Americans with supply cuts that usually lead to higher gasoline prices. Now, Trump was asking OPEC to slash output.

A senior U.S. official told Reuters that the administration notified Saudi leaders that, without production cuts, "there would be no way to stop the U.S. Congress from imposing restrictions that could lead to a withdrawal of U.S. forces." The official summed up the argument, made through various diplomatic channels, as telling Saudi leaders: "We are defending your industry while you're destroying ours."

Reuters asked Trump about the talks in an interview Wednesday evening at the White House, at which the president addressed a range of topics involving the pandemic. Asked if he told the crown prince that the U.S. might pull forces out of Saudi Arabia, Trump said, "I didn't have to tell him."

"I thought he and President Putin, Vladimir Putin, were very reasonable," Trump said. "They knew they had a problem, and then this happened."

Asked what he told the Crown Prince Mohammed, Trump said: "They were having a hard time making a deal. And I met telephonically with him, and we were able to reach a deal" for production cuts, Trump said.

[May 02, 2020] MBS's doomed attempt to play with the big boys over oil,

May 02, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Cortes April 26, 2020 at 2:55 pm

After riffing on the theme of MBS's doomed attempt to play with the big boys over oil, Andrei Martyanov goes on to suggest a possible way for superpowers to cooperate:

https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/2020/04/one-doesnt-need-to-be.html

The intersection of great power Noblesse Oblige and The Final Frontier?

[Apr 23, 2020] What an Oil ETF Has to Do With Plunging Oil Prices

Apr 23, 2020 | www.bloomberg.com

The oil market is in disarray, a result of a coronavirus-led collapse in demand, surplus supply following a price war and a shortage of storage. Yet there have been plenty of people willing to bet on a rebound in basement-level crude prices, and for many retail investors the vehicle of choice has been an exchange-traded fund. However, those wagers via the biggest American ETF -– the U.S. Oil Fund, or USO -– have contributed to market mayhem and helped push crude prices below zero.

1. What did the fund do?

It grew so huge so quickly that it became a sizable player in the market for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for crude. Investors piled in during March and April, convinced that oil prices that had been falling -- pushed down by a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia that boosted production just as demand was slashed by pandemic-driven lockdowns -- would eventually recover once economies reopened. At different stages, the fund held about a quarter of all May and June contracts for WTI.

2. What's the problem?

Unlike shares that can be held as long as an investor chooses, oil futures have finite terms and are agreements to buy or sell a physical product. The May futures contract, for example, expired on April 21. Any holder who had not sold by then would need to take delivery of the oil -- 1,000 U.S. barrels, or 42,000 gallons, for each contract.

3. Where does USO come in?

As a favored investment vehicle for many bullish speculators , the number of shares in the fund ballooned from 145 million at the end of February to more than 1.4 billion by mid-April. Its outsized portion of the WTI market -– on paper -- came at a time when demand for physical oil was cratering and storage space was becoming harder and more expensive to find.

4. What does that have to do with the price plunge?

For years, USO was mandated to invest in the most-active WTI contract and to roll it over to the following contract. (Rolling over means selling it and, often simultaneously, buying the following month's contract.) The flood of money into May contracts earlier had pushed oil prices up; as USO sold its May futures as part of the rollover and bought June and July contracts, prices fell for May and rose for the following months, opening an unusually wide spread. Only a handful of traders remained in the May contract on Monday, when prices plunged well below zero .

5. What's the worry now?

With USO holding a significant level of June contracts, there are concerns that prices will go negative again and that the whole process might repeat -- or might be worse, if the April 20th debacle scares off more investors. To try to mitigate the prospect, USO, which lost 37% of its value in the first three weeks of April, has moved to allocate some holdings to contracts expiring later in the year, since those prices tend to be less volatile. But the fund is adding to pressure on oil prices in other ways.


6. How is that?

https://buy.tinypass.com/checkout/template/show?displayMode=inline&containerSelector=.inline-newsletter&templateId=OTK9NE7VLZ7E&offerId=fakeOfferId&showCloseButton=false&trackingId=%7Bjcx%7DH4sIAAAAAAAAAFWQXU_CMBSG_0uvKWm7fnKHyHAoCony4V3tuq1xbHMdYGL873ZENDQnTXqe8755e76AdikYgeQuvvVxUrVzMACNzu3a2VPSE4IIgohCQvqiuL-l5LBkq-0mmdX5ZDfRYzSH5M2ITGQWY0GJxlFGLUc2jbh8E5gpEoztZ2NbZytjz9bTLZ7coqWKX15uruj005pD5-rqPIYlksxLVIQc4RCf0o666P1DHvfvLGcpq8v6Sj82f2Jf1Kdnu29K3dnZckmTRfS0iNEMR0FRaH9hYNS1BzsA3e_7LH56vlePU7F-eBVT8M_WunW66vqR6lCWA2D0vtEur_ylcXTenTk4wusFRgIiCZUg8EgTv9ssHucn8epWRQPDN6MIccqyTEqDjRIpyhQzUrIUc5KGBK4JllwOsVJDgvhQytA8eNuOc1t1gaUn0wftSjDCTAquOBL0-wc_ZnWZ5gEAAA&experienceId=EX1CD0P9FUUB&tbc=%7Bjzx%7Dt_3qvTkEkvt3AGEeiiNNgAAU00osQjCe0eF96F_9vcluNhIruyJ5U_hxmYIoR_aQC3rHe7849TeV2Z2AEouDIc2XbqmfsITfbdl6zvDN4VT5RP0yLhL9h60mm8w09XJtjylU0Z664w9lha1BgkmqDg&iframeId=offer-0-ScnYD&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bloomberg.com%2Fnews%2Farticles%2F2020-04-22%2Fwhat-an-oil-etf-has-to-do-with-plunging-oil-prices-quicktake%3Fsrnd%3Dpremium&parentDualScreenLeft=1536&parentDualScreenTop=0&parentWidth=1536&parentHeight=762&parentOuterHeight=864&aid=IHFDsFInrJ&contentSection=content-article&pageViewId=2020-04-22-22-41-22-886-l5QXWIGogCYCaA0J-2bc7f7fe11742a13f4e60ed368b71592&visitId=v-2020-04-22-22-37-08-972-v4IsYWMNJw7ZiQhp-808330645ff88c1c97d0f95c885d162d&userProvider=publisher_user_ref&userToken=&customCookies=%7B%7D&hasLoginRequiredCallback=false&width=170&_qh=46cb607e8b

There was so much demand for USO that it exhausted the number of shares it was allowed to issue and, on April 20, asked regulators for permission to register an additional 4 billion, more than double the existing number. Until the new shares are cleared for issuance, the ETF will not purchase more futures contracts, according to analysts, potentially adding to pressure on crude prices. Without new oil contracts, the fund will also become untethered from the prices it's supposed to track.

7. Anything else?


ETF prices are kept in sync with the value of their holdings, their so-called NAV (net-asset value), through the creation and redemption of shares. So-called "authorized participants" for instance sell an ETF when it's rising and buy the underlying security to pocket a quick profit, keeping the fund's price and NAV in lockstep in the process. However, with the authorized participants no longer able to create shares, that's disrupted demand for the underlying contracts.

8. How about other ETFs?

USO is hardly the only exchange-traded fund to be hammered by the swings in oil futures; the effects were felt around the globe. The Samsung S&P GSCI Crude Oil ER Futures ETF, whose holdings of the derivatives slumped 26% on Tuesday to $378 million , saw its traded units lose half their value for a time Wednesday. Closing down 46% at HK $1.79 , the ETF had its biggest drop and lowest finish since trading began in May 2016. Credit Suisse Group AG told investors in a leveraged exchange-traded note that tracks the price of oil they probably won't get any money back after the value of the note dropped below zero.

The Reference Shelf

[Apr 22, 2020] What an Oil ETF Has to Do With Plunging Oil Prices

Apr 22, 2020 | www.bloomberg.com

The oil market is in disarray, a result of a coronavirus-led collapse in demand, surplus supply following a price war and a shortage of storage. Yet there have been plenty of people willing to bet on a rebound in basement-level crude prices, and for many retail investors the vehicle of choice has been an exchange-traded fund. However, those wagers via the biggest American ETF -– the U.S. Oil Fund, or USO -– have contributed to market mayhem and helped push crude prices below zero.

1. What did the fund do?

It grew so huge so quickly that it became a sizable player in the market for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for crude. Investors piled in during March and April, convinced that oil prices that had been falling -- pushed down by a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia that boosted production just as demand was slashed by pandemic-driven lockdowns -- would eventually recover once economies reopened. At different stages, the fund held about a quarter of all May and June contracts for WTI.

2. What's the problem?

Unlike shares that can be held as long as an investor chooses, oil futures have finite terms and are agreements to buy or sell a physical product. The May futures contract, for example, expired on April 21. Any holder who had not sold by then would need to take delivery of the oil -- 1,000 U.S. barrels, or 42,000 gallons, for each contract.

3. Where does USO come in?

As a favored investment vehicle for many bullish speculators , the number of shares in the fund ballooned from 145 million at the end of February to more than 1.4 billion by mid-April. Its outsized portion of the WTI market -– on paper -- came at a time when demand for physical oil was cratering and storage space was becoming harder and more expensive to find.

4. What does that have to do with the price plunge?

For years, USO was mandated to invest in the most-active WTI contract and to roll it over to the following contract. (Rolling over means selling it and, often simultaneously, buying the following month's contract.) The flood of money into May contracts earlier had pushed oil prices up; as USO sold its May futures as part of the rollover and bought June and July contracts, prices fell for May and rose for the following months, opening an unusually wide spread. Only a handful of traders remained in the May contract on Monday, when prices plunged well below zero .

5. What's the worry now?

With USO holding a significant level of June contracts, there are concerns that prices will go negative again and that the whole process might repeat -- or might be worse, if the April 20th debacle scares off more investors. To try to mitigate the prospect, USO, which lost 37% of its value in the first three weeks of April, has moved to allocate some holdings to contracts expiring later in the year, since those prices tend to be less volatile. But the fund is adding to pressure on oil prices in other ways.


6. How is that?

https://buy.tinypass.com/checkout/template/show?displayMode=inline&containerSelector=.inline-newsletter&templateId=OTK9NE7VLZ7E&offerId=fakeOfferId&showCloseButton=false&trackingId=%7Bjcx%7DH4sIAAAAAAAAAFWQXU_CMBSG_0uvKWm7fnKHyHAoCony4V3tuq1xbHMdYGL873ZENDQnTXqe8755e76AdikYgeQuvvVxUrVzMACNzu3a2VPSE4IIgohCQvqiuL-l5LBkq-0mmdX5ZDfRYzSH5M2ITGQWY0GJxlFGLUc2jbh8E5gpEoztZ2NbZytjz9bTLZ7coqWKX15uruj005pD5-rqPIYlksxLVIQc4RCf0o666P1DHvfvLGcpq8v6Sj82f2Jf1Kdnu29K3dnZckmTRfS0iNEMR0FRaH9hYNS1BzsA3e_7LH56vlePU7F-eBVT8M_WunW66vqR6lCWA2D0vtEur_ylcXTenTk4wusFRgIiCZUg8EgTv9ssHucn8epWRQPDN6MIccqyTEqDjRIpyhQzUrIUc5KGBK4JllwOsVJDgvhQytA8eNuOc1t1gaUn0wftSjDCTAquOBL0-wc_ZnWZ5gEAAA&experienceId=EX1CD0P9FUUB&tbc=%7Bjzx%7Dt_3qvTkEkvt3AGEeiiNNgAAU00osQjCe0eF96F_9vcluNhIruyJ5U_hxmYIoR_aQC3rHe7849TeV2Z2AEouDIc2XbqmfsITfbdl6zvDN4VT5RP0yLhL9h60mm8w09XJtjylU0Z664w9lha1BgkmqDg&iframeId=offer-0-ScnYD&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bloomberg.com%2Fnews%2Farticles%2F2020-04-22%2Fwhat-an-oil-etf-has-to-do-with-plunging-oil-prices-quicktake%3Fsrnd%3Dpremium&parentDualScreenLeft=1536&parentDualScreenTop=0&parentWidth=1536&parentHeight=762&parentOuterHeight=864&aid=IHFDsFInrJ&contentSection=content-article&pageViewId=2020-04-22-22-41-22-886-l5QXWIGogCYCaA0J-2bc7f7fe11742a13f4e60ed368b71592&visitId=v-2020-04-22-22-37-08-972-v4IsYWMNJw7ZiQhp-808330645ff88c1c97d0f95c885d162d&userProvider=publisher_user_ref&userToken=&customCookies=%7B%7D&hasLoginRequiredCallback=false&width=170&_qh=46cb607e8b

There was so much demand for USO that it exhausted the number of shares it was allowed to issue and, on April 20, asked regulators for permission to register an additional 4 billion, more than double the existing number. Until the new shares are cleared for issuance, the ETF will not purchase more futures contracts, according to analysts, potentially adding to pressure on crude prices. Without new oil contracts, the fund will also become untethered from the prices it's supposed to track.

7. Anything else?


ETF prices are kept in sync with the value of their holdings, their so-called NAV (net-asset value), through the creation and redemption of shares. So-called "authorized participants" for instance sell an ETF when it's rising and buy the underlying security to pocket a quick profit, keeping the fund's price and NAV in lockstep in the process. However, with the authorized participants no longer able to create shares, that's disrupted demand for the underlying contracts.

8. How about other ETFs?

USO is hardly the only exchange-traded fund to be hammered by the swings in oil futures; the effects were felt around the globe. The Samsung S&P GSCI Crude Oil ER Futures ETF, whose holdings of the derivatives slumped 26% on Tuesday to $378 million , saw its traded units lose half their value for a time Wednesday. Closing down 46% at HK $1.79 , the ETF had its biggest drop and lowest finish since trading began in May 2016. Credit Suisse Group AG told investors in a leveraged exchange-traded note that tracks the price of oil they probably won't get any money back after the value of the note dropped below zero.

The Reference Shelf

[Apr 22, 2020] Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that the fall in prices for WTI oil futures is due to the actions of speculators.

Apr 22, 2020 | vz.ru

Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that the fall in prices for WTI oil futures is due to the actions of speculators.

"Yesterday's collapse of oil quotes of the us WTI brand occurred due to the sale of futures for delivery in may at the end of trading on paper (after April 20, the may futures are not traded on the exchange), the lack of demand for additional oil supplies in may and the likelihood of overstocking storage facilities. This caused a speculative fall of the financial instrument to negative values, " he said, according to TASS.

The head of the energy Ministry urged "not to dramatize the situation". According to him, it is important to understand that this is "a paper market, not a trade in physical oil," RIA Novosti reports.

The Minister also noted that the pressure on the oil market will continue until the start of the OPEC+ agreement in may, after which the reduction of oil production by countries outside the agreement and the easing of restrictions will begin.

"The oil market is currently in an extremely volatile state due to a sharp drop in demand associated with measures to counter the spread of coronavirus, with the gradual overstocking of storage facilities and the uncertainty of the timing of the global economic recovery. Pressure on the market will continue until the OPEC + agreement begins in may, reducing production by countries outside the agreement and easing restrictive measures, " he said.

Novak assured that OPEC+ countries are closely monitoring the situation in the oil market and have all the capabilities to respond.

"But don't dramatize the situation. It is important to understand that this is a paper market, that is, trading in derivative financial instruments, and not physical oil. Quotes for June Brent and WTI futures are significantly higher, although they are also subject to volatility due to the General negative mood in the market," Novak added.

The price of WTI oil for delivery in may ended Monday's main trading on the NYMEX on negative values, falling to minus 37.63 dollars. The decrease was 300%. Before that, the quotes reached minus 40.32 dollars per barrel. Later, the price of may WTI futures returned to positive values, rising by 160% to $ 2.21 per barrel.

The price of a barrel of oil on the morning of April 21 was trading at $ 21.41.

[Apr 21, 2020] The most acute pain was among so called hedges, namely who sold the obligations to buy oil at a certain price.

Nobody can cancel the end of cheap oil. those manipulations with futures and paper oil is just a blip of the radar. "Bottom line is that we live on a finite world which capitalism treats as an infinite resource."
Apr 21, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
juliania , Apr 21 2020 15:43 utc | 61

On the previous thread, Piotr Berman @ 417 did bring up the subject of this post by b, and had the following final comment: "...Actually, the most acute pain is among the clever folk who provided the so-called hedges, namely who sold the obligations to buy oil at a certain price. They are losing hundreds of billions -- my guess. Now they are forced to buy AND store, hence the negative price."

Thanks, Piotr. Some of what is happening makes a bit more sense to me as far as the strange dealings in the stock market are concerned.

Also, just above at 416, karlof1 had this to say: "...Was the West ever on the path to making its goal the improvement of the Common Man as advocated by Wallace and his political allies?..." His answer is NO (exclamation point.)

My answer is YES (exclamation point.) Even if you only progress as far as the creation of the UN, with the leadership of Eleanor, that is an important pivotal moment for mankind which we cannot ignore. But I will state uncategorically that the JFK administration had similar idealistic goals and would have carried them out, had it not been for divisive powers plotting against it. That such dastardly powers succeeded does not negate the previous effort.

And even the example of China proves that this is not an impossible dream for mankind in general. As also is the example of Russia. We are fortunate in this generation to have two role models instead of one.

I don't have the Frost poem at hand so I will thusly mangle the last lines (sorry)

Two paths lay in the woods, and I
Took the one less travelled by
And that has made all the difference.

I've mangled it, but the meaning is there, I think. (I'll go find the correct version, and point of reference, I was a college student when Robert Frost came to Johns Hopkins and I heard him read his poems. He did so also at Kennedy's inaugural.)


gm , Apr 21 2020 10:36 utc | 8

What -$37/bbl oil means to you:

Oil futures paper contracts market (in normal times of stable->rising oil prices and plenty of tank storage capacity a simple safe "buy low, hold, sell high" investment vehicle used heavily by investment banks, hedge funds, ETFs and teachers', municipal employees', etc, retirement/pension funds) explained in 5 minutes by Chris Martenson starts at ~minute 35:00:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8Pv77R3g1E

arby , Apr 21 2020 12:10 utc | 17
Emily, We may still be at or around peak oil. That does not mean that all of the heavily indebted countries and oil companies won't pump what's left as fast and hard as they can.

Now you have to stir in a massive plunge in demand to the equation. Seems to me that all newer oil discoveries are deep sea or shale. All of which require much more energy to produce then say thirty years ago.

When it takes the equivalent of one barrel of energy to produce one barrel of energy it will be lights out.

William Gruff , Apr 21 2020 12:10 utc | 18
dan of steele @2

The petrodollar was not in and of itself the mechanism that the US used to "export debt" and enrich itself off global trade. Rather, the petrodollar was the mechanism used to lock-in the US$ as the global reserve currency. If you wanted oil, you needed US$. After that it was just convenient to use US$ for other internationally traded commodities as well. Of course, this made even more sense way back in the distant past of the middle of last century because most of the international trade in manufactured goods was for American products, for which you'd have to use dollars to buy anyway.

The empire fanbois will cook up all kinds of explanations for why the dollar will remain the Global Reserve Currency in order to reassure themselves of the empire's continued hegemony, but the fact is that all of the "locks" locking other countries into that regime are now gone. Countries can choose to walk away now whereas in the past that would mean giving up access to oil and no longer importing all of those awesome things that the US used to make. That is not a barrier anymore.

Emily , Apr 21 2020 12:56 utc | 24
Arby 17.
Thank you for taking the time to reply.
But something to ponder
Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaellynch/2018/06/29/what-ever-happened-to-peak-oil/
Yergin
https://www.technologyreview.com/2011/09/22/191161/peak-oil-debunked/
Well good news for those of us who agree with Edgar Cayce.
'Russia is the hope of the world'.
Russia has 60 years worth left and thats with its known reserves.
Hasn't touched the Arctic yet.....
https://www.worldometers.info/oil/russia-oil/
gm , Apr 21 2020 13:19 utc | 27
US/Western financial markets are a "musical chairs" game, where right now more chairs are being pulled out from the game faster than the FED and the central banks can 'digitally print' new chairs to keep the game going.
Peter AU1 , Apr 21 2020 14:27 utc | 39
Looks like energy dominance will get a bail out.
"We will never let the great US Oil & Gas Industry down. I have instructed the Secretary of Energy and Secretary of the Treasury to formulate a plan which will make funds available so that these very important companies and jobs will be secured long into the future!" Trump said via Twitter.

https://sputniknews.com/us/202004211079043543-trump-instructs-treasury-energy-depts-to-devise-plan-to-fund-us-oil-gas-industry/
juliania , Apr 21 2020 14:36 utc | 41
Is this a result of all the lockdowns? A sort of automotive general strike occasioned by the virus, aided and abetted by government enforcement of restrictions on industry, travel, general hulabaloo?

Peace has descended upon a weary world. Nature has commanded us to cease and desist from gigantic insults upon the earth. Stop digging! she says, Leave it in the ground! Cease and desist making war for oil!

What does it profit a man? It profits him nothing! I have no idea where this leads, but it is a delicious moment. Look, see the power we have to bring everything to a standstill, even when we only do it because we are forced to! What if we did it willingly?

Where are your trillions now, moghuls?

The earth has spoken. We should all listen. Me, I am going out to plant potatoes.

Trisha , Apr 21 2020 15:27 utc | 56
Peak shale has arrived. The energy inefficiency of fracking - directly related to the economic efficiency of producing shale - killed it off. This would have happened even without COVID-19.

The same will (eventually) happen with oil. The global economy - already teetering - has now been pushed over the edge by COVID-19. The demand side of capitalist growth has been temporarily (and in some cases permanently) crushed - which is a good thing for the planet - as workers are idled for the foreseeable future, and many out of a job forever.

Bottom line is that we live on a finite world which capitalism treats as an infinite resource.

[Apr 21, 2020] 20 April 2020 at 05:20 PM

Apr 21, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com
div This (oil + the virus) is looking like an economic Pearl Harbor for shale oil industry This (oil + the virus) is looking like an economic Pearl Harbor. I think BRICS is playing a far better game of chess so far and will win if we don't replace The Swamp with dedicated people with vision and smarts and who put country above cronyism and self-enrichment.

JJackson , 20 April 2020 at 05:33 PM

What has the fluctuating price of oil got to do with peak oil? One is reflection of demand, plus manipulation of the price by producers, and the other has to do with the long term rates of extraction relative to the creation of new reserves by deposition of marine micro-organism and there decay under pressure and temperature conditions only geological time scales. the two are as similar as the price of fish and oranges.
Jack , 20 April 2020 at 07:00 PM
Sir

You were spot on about Peak Oil. US shale will not die. While shareholders and bond holders will take a haircut today, the extraction technology will continue to improve and their costs of production will decline. As oil prices improve shale production will return. The US is in a strong position as it doesn't have to be concerned about oil at least for the next several decades.

From a supply/demand perspective, oil density in the west will continue to decline as our economies become more efficient and as solar and nuclear becomes more cost competitive for electricity generation.

An investment maxim is to buy when there's blood in the streets. We will continue to use oil for at least another couple generations IMO.

The big issue in the short term is going to be the drastic impacts for those economies entirely dependent on crude revenues. The last time crude prices were lower for a sustained period the Soviet Union collapsed. MbS is running massive budget deficits as he keeps his population from revolting against the monarchy. One possible good outcome is there's going to be less funding for the jihadists in the short term.

Jack , 20 April 2020 at 08:21 PM
BTW, huge opportunity for Trump administration. Buy paper futures for May delivery at negative prices and then accept delivery of physical.

This is the real Art of the Deal.

srw , 20 April 2020 at 08:36 PM
There is oil out there and there will be for a long, long, time. The only determining factor is the price to get it out of the ground. Here in North America fracking has opened the spigot but the price is $40+ a barrel to get it out of the ground.

What I can't fathom is why Canada is pushing through with the Keystone XL pipeline taking tar sands oil from Alberta to Nebraska and eventually to the gulf coast.

Obama put the stop to it but the Trumpster reversed his executive order and they started building again this month, although a federal judge just stopped it due to environmental review.

Several years ago I read that tar sands oil costs $70+/barrel and that doesn't include shipping cost. Does Canada know something about the future price of oil or are they just subsiding their oil companies/workers? I sure wouldn't invest in it.

[Apr 17, 2020] Oil price probably depends on whether the USA can deliver or will deliver: Scott Ritter thinks it can't.

Apr 17, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

OIL WARS. After a lot of phonecalls – especially between Putin, Trump and Riyadh , OPEC plus Russia plus USA have agreed to a production cut. How long will the agreement last? Your guess – it probably depends on whether the USA can deliver or will deliver: Scott Ritter thinks it can't . On the other hand, Washington has had a chance to learn its lesson – shale oil needs price about twice what it is today back down to about $20/bbl ; one producer has already gone bust . COVID has so greatly reduced demand that the cuts may have little effect anyway .

[Apr 11, 2020] Exclusive U.S. banks prepare to seize energy assets as shale boom goes bust by David French and Imani Moise

Notable quotes:
"... JPMorgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo & Co, Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc are each in the process of setting up independent companies to own oil and gas assets, said three people who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The banks are also looking to hire executives with relevant expertise to manage them, the sources said. ..."
"... U.S. oil and gas producers have increasingly relied on banks for cash over the past year, as debt or equity options dried up. Lenders have been conservative in valuing hydrocarbons used as collateral, but recent restructurings have left them spooked. ..."
Apr 11, 2020 | finance.yahoo.com

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Major U.S. lenders are preparing to become operators of oil and gas fields across the country for the first time in a generation to avoid losses on loans to energy companies that may go bankrupt, sources aware of the plans told Reuters.

JPMorgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo & Co, Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc are each in the process of setting up independent companies to own oil and gas assets, said three people who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The banks are also looking to hire executives with relevant expertise to manage them, the sources said.

The banks did not provide comment in time for publication.

Energy companies are suffering through a plunge in oil prices caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a supply glut, with crude prices down more than 60% this year.

Although oil prices may gain support from a potential agreement Thursday between Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut production, few believe the curtailment can offset a 30% drop in global fuel demand, as the coronavirus has grounded aircraft, reduced vehicle use and curbed economic activity more broadly.

Oil and gas companies working in shale basins from Texas to Wyoming are saddled with debt.

The industry is estimated to owe more than $200 billion to lenders through loans backed by oil and gas reserves. As revenue has plummeted and assets have declined in value, some companies are saying they may be unable to repay.

Whiting Petroleum Corp became the first producer to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 1. Others, including Chesapeake Energy Corp, Denbury Resources Inc and Callon Petroleum Co, have also hired debt advisers.

If banks do not retain bankrupt assets, they might be forced to sell them for pennies on the dollar at current prices. The companies they are setting up could manage oil and gas assets until conditions improve enough to sell at a meaningful value.

Big banks will need to get regulatory waivers to execute their plans, because of limitations on their involvement with physical commodities, sources said.

Banks are hoping their planned ownership time frame of a year or so will pass a Federal Reserve requirement that they do not plan to hold assets for a long time. Because lenders would be stepping in to support part of the economy that is important to any potential rebound, and which has not gotten direct bailouts from the federal government, that might help applications, too.

For now, the banks are establishing holding companies that can sit above limited liability companies (LLCs) containing seized assets. The LLCs would be owned proportionally by banks participating in the original secured loan.

To run the oil-and-gas operations, banks might hire former industry executives or specialty firms that have done so for private equity, sources said. Houston-based EnerVest Operating LLC would be among the most likely operators, sources said.

"We regularly look for opportunities to operate on behalf of other entities, that is no different in this market," said EnerVest Operating's chief executive, Alex Zazzi.


GETTING ASSERTIVE

U.S. banks have not done anything like this since the late-1980s, when another oil-price rout bankrupted a bunch of energy companies. More recently, they have relied on restructuring processes that prioritize them as secured creditors and leave bondholders to seek control in lieu of payment.

But banks are becoming more assertive because of the coronavirus recession and balance sheet vulnerabilities that have developed in recent years.

U.S. oil and gas producers have increasingly relied on banks for cash over the past year, as debt or equity options dried up. Lenders have been conservative in valuing hydrocarbons used as collateral, but recent restructurings have left them spooked.

Alta Mesa Resources' bankruptcy will likely provide banks with less than two-thirds of their money, while Sanchez Energy's could leave them with nothing.

The structures banks are setting up will take a few months to establish, sources said. That gives producers until the fall - the next time banks will evaluate the collateral behind energy loans - to get their houses in order.

After several years of on-and-off issues with energy borrowers, lenders have little choice but to take more dramatic steps, said Buddy Clark, a restructuring partner at law firm Haynes and Boone.

"Banks can now believably wield the threat that they will foreclose on the company and its properties if they don't pay their loan back," he said.

(Reporting by David French and Imani Moise in New York; Additional Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts Marshall; Editing by Leslie Adler; Editing by Lauren Tara LaCapra)

[Apr 01, 2020] Trump, Putin Will Discuss The End Of U.S. Shale Oil

Apr 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jackrabbit , Mar 30 2020 18:14 utc | 6

Trump announced that he would use the cheap prices to fill the U.S. strategic oil reserve. But the spare room in the reserve storage at that time was only some 150 million barrels. As it can only be filled at a rate of 2 million barrels per day the topping off of the reserve is insignificant in the current market.

The oil producers at first pumped their oil into storage tanks to be sold later. When those filled up they rented supertankers to store the oil at sea. But empty supertankers are now also getting rare and the price for them is increasing :

The CEO of the world's largest tanker owner, Frontline Ltd., said on Friday that he'd never known such demand to hire ships for long-term storage. Traders could book ships to put 100 million barrels at sea this week alone, he estimated, but even that could accounts for less than a week's oversupply.

The only solution will be a shut down of the more expensive oil fields. Canada and Brazil are already doing it. U.S. shale producers who are bleeding cash will now have to follow.

That is clearly what Russia wants :

As soon as U.S. shale leaves the market, prices will rebound and could reach $60 a barrel, Rosneft's Igor Sechin said recently. As fate would have it, in what many would have until recently considered an impossible scenario, a lot of U.S. shale might do just that.

Breakeven prices for U.S. shale basins range between $39 and $48 a barrel, according to data compiled by Reuters. Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is trading below $25 a barrel and has been for over a week now.

The Trump administration has asked the Saudis to produce less oil but as the Saudi tourist industry is currently also dead the Saudi clown prince needs every dollar he can get. The Saudis will continue to pump and they will sell their oil at any price.

The White House is now concerned that it will completely lose its beloved shale oil industry and all the jobs connected to it.

Russia of cause knows this and a few days ago it made an interesting offer :

A new OPEC+ deal to balance oil markets might be possible if other countries join in, Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund said, adding that countries should also cooperate to cushion the economic fallout from coronavirus.
...
"Joint actions by countries are needed to restore the(global) economy... They (joint actions) are also possible in OPEC+ deal's framework," Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), told Reuters in a phone interview.
...
"We are in contact with Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries. Based on these contacts we see that if the number of OPEC+ members will increase and other countries will join there is a possibility of a joint agreement to balance oil markets."

Dmitriev declined to say who the new deal's members should or could be. U.S. President Donald Trump said last week he would get involved in the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia at the appropriate time.

A logical new member of an expanded crude oil cartel would be one of the biggest global producer that so far was not a member of that club - the U.S. of A.

We now learn that Trump is ready to talk about that or other concepts:

As Ria reports (in Russian) the topics of upcoming phone call [between Putin and Trump] will be Covid-19, trade (???) and, you guessed it, oil prices.

Trump, who sanctioned the Russian-German Nord-Stream II pipeline while telling Germany to buy U.S. shale gas, is now in a quite bad negotiation position. Russia does not need a new OPEC deal right now. It has many financial reserves and can live with low oil prices for much longer than the Saudis and other oil producing countries. Trump would have to make a strategic offer that Russia could not resist to get some cooperation on oil prices.

But what strategic offer could Trump make that would move Putin to agree to some new deal?

Ukraine? Russia is not interested in that unrulable , bankrupt and fascist infested entity.

Syria? The Zionist billionaires would stop their donations to Trump if he were to give up on destroying it.

Joining an OPEC++ deal and limit U.S. oil production? That would be an anti-American intervention in free markets and Congress would never agree to it.

And what reason has Russia to believe that Trump or his successor would stick to any deal? As the U.S. is non-agreement-capable it has none.

The outcome of the phone call will therefore likely be nothing.

The carnage in the oil markets will continue and will ravage those producer countries that need every penny while the corona virus is ravaging their people. Meanwhile the U.S. shale market will go bust . US financial companies had a big exposure to the Shale Oil frackers.

Good thing trillions of dollars of 'liquidity' has been shoveled their way.

<> <> <> <> <>

Lender of last resort: the unborn.

!!


Thomas Minnehan , Mar 30 2020 18:15 utc | 7

FWIW:
One aspect of the crude complete collapse is to keep an eye on futures and the serious contango at the moment: contango=prices on future contracts are higher than current contract.

e.g. May 2020 CL contract=~$20, May 2021 =~$35.50.

Someone or someones are betting that the crude market will improve, i.e. they are storing crude in very large crude carriers (VLCC) @>$200k per day lease cost. That is a serious commitment/bet on future price/mkt improvement.

karlof1 , Mar 30 2020 18:32 utc | 9
Unmentioned is the connection between Fracking Fraud and the Bond Market Bubble with Congress actively intervening/abetting the Fraud by providing more money to the Ponzi Scheme.
vk , Mar 30 2020 19:18 utc | 22
It was time. The shale industry already was a huge bubble even when oil prices were at USD 60.00 (because it had to borrow a lot to invest, and the more wells drilled, the lower was the oil output per USD invested), which insiders in Wall Street were already discussing how to burst it.

And this is a 100% intentional by the Russians. If American shale really go down, then it would be ironic, since it was the oil crisis of 1975 that effectively ended the Soviet Union.

Vengeance is dish best served cold indeed.

Krollchem , Mar 30 2020 19:28 utc | 26
Another factor going against the shale fracking pipe dream is that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is filled with real oil. Fracking produces light condensate (not oil) that does not meet this criteria, and thus the frackers will not benefit from filling the SPR (unless Trump changes the rules)

Besides, Exxon wants to crush the independent oil shale players and pick up the pieces at pennies on the dollar. Furthermore, former ExxonMobil head Lee Raymond once stated that "Exxon U.S. is not a "company and I don't make decisions based on what's good for the U.S."
https://www.desmogblog.com/2020/03/27/shale-bailout-trump-oil-exxon-strategic-petroleum-reserve

David , Mar 30 2020 19:35 utc | 28
A study by the Wall Street Journal concluded that in one ten year period, the shale oil companies' total costs had exceeded their revenues by two hundred and eighty billion dollars. They have stayed in business by issuing new stock and more debt to cover their losses. Their prime fields are seeing production declines. Their costs are rising as the price of is oil tanking. Collapse is imminent. It's going to have far-reaching consequences.
TG , Mar 30 2020 20:04 utc | 37
Yet another example of the utter intellectual bankruptcy of the US ruling class. They've been playing a rigged game for so long, they've forgotten how to think.

As others here have pointed out, not to worry, the US fracking industry will get bailed out.

The real thing the US might do, is not to join an expanded OPEC+, but to limit imports of foreign oil and protect the domestic industry. Contrary to current 'free trade' dogma, protectionism does work (example A: the United States from 1776 to 1970. Any questions?), but classically you want to limit imports of MANUFACTURED goods and keep the cost of raw materials low. Increasing the relative costs of raw materials in the US while still allowing mass importation of manufactured goods from low-wage nations is anti-Hamiltonian and will crush what remains of US domestic manufacturing..)

Krypton , Mar 30 2020 20:06 utc | 38
Meanwhile Western Canadian Select is now going for $5 a barrel - less than the price of a coffee and muffin at Starbucks.
Michael Droy , Mar 30 2020 20:11 utc | 40
Not sure the US shale market can "go bust" as such. The owners can go bankrupt, but that just means banks and bondholders become the new owners, and their debt investment suddenly turns into equity investment with zero gearing. Once that happens the US shale producers become solid companies financed with zero debt and no incentive to hold back on production. They pump and pump and pump until the pumps no longer work.
Sure, no new developments, but the existing infrastructure will last a few years yet.
Hal Duell , Mar 30 2020 20:15 utc | 41
I don't see a way out for the US fracking industry. Their product is too expensive in the current times, and those setting the rules in these times (Russia and Saud Arabia) have no good reason to help.
The social damage from a collapse in the US will be papered over with printed money. I don't know how that will play out.
One scenario is time being called on the US's forever-wars in the Middle East, but would they be replaced by an invasion of Venezuela? There is good stuff down there, as well as the heavy stuff they've been pulling out. And just across the border into Brazil there is some high ground that looks like a good spot to build a command post.
The US could cut its losses in the wider world, something that seems to be happening anyway, and return to America, north and south. I don't see it just quietly going down the gurgler, but the European Union might.
Stonebird , Mar 30 2020 20:35 utc | 46
Of course it is already a war. The question I ask is, who is fighting and against whom?
The tactical aim at the moment is the end of the petro-dollar. A secondary aim is finding a limit to US militarism. Which in turn depends on the pork.... soorry.... the grifting of large sums of unlimited largess. Third, is trade and domination of markets including sanctions and "treaties". Fourth, is the "domination" of population dissent and overriding Judicial systems.

So the US, China and Russia are at it "hammer and tongs" (old saying but apt). Covid is just one means to an end, regime change another. Who else is in the fight? I would suggest that the Oligarchy and the Termites, the Fed and the deep parallel financial pool, the uncontrolled but unified intelligence "agencies", all have their own agendas.

naiverealist , Mar 30 2020 20:40 utc | 48
Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 30 2020 19:14 utc | 21

"The slow collapse of the US position in Iraq means that the US is not going to hold those oil-fields for too long."

Remember where this oil is going to. During the previous presidential term, it was discovered that the oil was going into Turkey, aided and abetted by the profiteers Erdogan and his son, and then onto oil tankers that shipped it to Occupied Palestine. Current production is also going into Jordan, where it is being shipped by pipeline into the refinery in Eliat(?). I can only surmise the price to be extremely cheap.

So the inhabitants of Occupied Palestine will expect the US to maintain this flow as long as they can, come hell or dead GIs.

vk , Mar 30 2020 20:41 utc | 49
The problem with shale became clear right after the first wells were drilled.

If I understood the reports from the "shale bubble" website correctly, originally the magic over shale gas and oil came from the fact that Wall Street was involved since the beginning (so it was a "coastal elites/heartland rednecks alliance" from birth) and the expectation was that a horizontal well would perform the same way as the traditional vertical well.

A traditional vertical well follows are normal curve graphic, imitating a hill. It starts low, but keeps growing until reaching a peak, maintains this peak for a while (some decades) and then begin a suave fall, which also takes decades.

No wonder, then, the huge euphoria that started in Wall Street when those horizontal wells begun pumping out oil at absurd quantities - they imagine that was the output floor of such wells, and that productivity would only rise after the decades. Indeed, it was predicted at the time that the USA not only was firmly walking towards self-sufficiency - many also predicted it would become the world's greatest oil exporter (yes, above Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia etc.).

But this euphoria was short-lived, as, some years later, productivity of the horizontal wells begun to suddenly fall. It was then realized, after further research, that those wells performed differently than the vertical wells: they begun directly with peak production, then immediately started to fall. Their output graphic looks like an upside-down, slightly inclined letter L.

Even after this discovery, the investors didn't immediately give up. They thought: let's just drill longer wells. And they did. It was then that another problem came out: it seems that, after 3-5 miles, those horizontal wells suddenly lose a lot of pressure necessary to pump the oil out of it. To make things worse, after this length, they begin to suck out pressure from the neighboring wells as well. Therefore, it is a self-defeating enterprise to extend the horizontal wells beyond 3 miles length. And the situation is even direr because shale reserves are usually concentrated in one specific area - it's not like you can drill one horizontal well in Ohio and another one in Florida and so on: the rule of thumb that the oil and gas "must be there" to be extracted in economically viable quantities still do apply to horizontal wells.

After that, all that kept the American shale industry alive was Wall Street and its rotten papers recycling machine.

El Cid , Mar 30 2020 20:44 utc | 50
The US unilateral economic siege on Venezuela and Iran has the affect of cutting world oil supply that benefits US shale and fracking industry.
karlof1 , Mar 30 2020 20:56 utc | 55
A friendly reminder to all barflies that fracking within the Outlaw US Empire also takes more energy to operate than the energy extracted. The business was bankrupt before it began, and nothing can change that fundamental fact.
Likklemore , Mar 30 2020 22:00 utc | 70
China will 'compel' Saudi Arabia to trade oil in yuan -- and that's going to affect the US dollar
from CNBC, Oct.2017
"I believe that yuan pricing of oil is coming and as soon as the Saudis move to accept it -- as the Chinese will compel them to do -- then the rest of the oil market will move along with them," Carl Weinberg, chief economist and managing director at High Frequency Economics, told CNBC

Also, recall the recent ARAMCO IPO, reportedly China took a 5 % stake. Hmmm. Was it with USTs?

occupatio , Mar 31 2020 0:16 utc | 89
The minute the Al Saud family begins accepting yuan for oil their days are numbered.
The US put them there, put the Saudi in Saudi Arabia. Any move to accept yuan will be seen as betrayal, and the Al Sauds will be removed, either replaced or simply obliterated.
Posted by: Realist | Mar 30 2020 23:21 utc | 86

+++

If Saudi Arabia shifts to the Yuan, it would have to diversify away from buying US arms. They might be the undisclosed buyer of high-end Chinese missiles, said to have an "urgent need" for them, as per Chinese media on 2020/3/29. This news might be functioning as diplomatic signalling.

Chinese high-end missile sees first export delivery despite pandemic
https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1184117.shtml

It was the first time a third-generation anti-tank weapon system developed by the Chinese company has been exported, according to the statement.

As the client was in urgent need of the missiles, the successful delivery had significant meaning for establishing Norinco's (China North Industries Group Corporation) market position and further opening up the market, the company said.

Norinco did not disclose more details on the deal in the statement, including the name of the buyer, the quantity purchased and the value of the deal.

Likklemore , Mar 31 2020 0:37 utc | 91
The US put them there, put the Saudi in Saudi Arabia. Any move to accept yuan will be seen as betrayal, and the Al Sauds will be removed, either replaced or simply obliterated.

You hug that thought. Newsflash: The horses camels have already bolted. China is expanding its presence/influence in ME.

These 35 agreements with KSA,'centered around ways to align the Saudi Vision 2030 with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative' will not be in USD - unless China is unloading USTs. There is nothing US can do except sell more arms to the kingdom. Reuters, WSJ reported the big signing and likely, CNN, Fox, ABC buried it.


"Saudi crown prince signs raft of cooperation agreements with China
Feb.22, 2019
BEIJING: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday met with Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng to discuss ways of further developing relations between the Kingdom and China.

The meeting took place in the grand surroundings of the Great Hall of the People in the Chinese capital Beijing. After their talks, the crown prince headed the Saudi delegation at the third session of the China-Saudi Arabia High-Level Joint Committee which he co-chaired with Zheng.

Delegates at the meeting discussed moves to strengthen cooperation between the two countries on trade, investment, energy, culture and technology, as well as the coordination of political and security matters. The committee also reviewed plans for greater integration between China's Belt and Road development strategy and the Saudi Vision 2030 reform program.

After agreeing on the minutes of the meeting, the Saudi royal and Zheng took part in the signing of a range of agreements, memorandums of understanding (MoU), investment projects and bilateral cooperation accords between the Kingdom and China:[.]

MoU between the Kingdom's Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources and the National Development and Reform Commission in China, signed by Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih and Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission.

MoU between the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Investment to form a working group to facilitate trade, signed by Abdul Rahman Al-Harbi, the Kingdom's deputy minister of commerce and investment, and Qian Keming, Chinese vice minister of commerce.[.]

Piotr Berman , Mar 31 2020 1:46 utc | 99
Deciphering the mental processes of MBS is always speculative, but it is very hard for KSA to deliver on the threat to increase the deliveries by 2.5 mln bbl/day. As we can see, planes fly only a fraction of pre-virus level, people on quarantine drive much less, you can offer fuel for free and it will not sell more. Now, if you could offer some hand sanitizer and facial tissues with each "full tank", perhaps it could work... But stopping oil production is troublesome for some reasons, to the ignorant me it seems that if you interrupt flow dynamic of oil, it is troublesome to restart it, shale oil may suffer from something similar. Thus tanker ships are being filled up and used for storage as destination ports refuse to take cargoes invoking "higher power". Hapless KSA cannot find enough tankers, and when they find them, hard to find a port to accept them. So KSA combative threat could impact psychology of the traders, but the virus made a dent in demand of several times larger magnitude.

Nobody knows how long the demand will stay low, but as it does, storage will be bursting, renting tanker ships became expensive. so the glut it will take time to dissipate (folks renting the tanker ships will be pressed to get rid of the cargoes at the first opportunity), and with no coordination to cut the production, low prices may stay for a year or more. This seems necessary to cut shale oil and other high cost oil project down to size. Periodic down period of pricing does not change long term calculations, but long periods will drive a lot of small players out of business. This means so-called consolidation, creditors become owners and sell it to vultures (regular folks cannot own something that costs more to maintain than it brings revenue). And what do the vultures do? "Paring excess capacity". Happened to many industries in the past. And even brainless bankers will give it two thoughts before lending money for projects in high cost oil production.

BTW, Putin is doing a gently MBS-like manouver, with the assist from Trump. To wit, Russia started to tax repatriated profits -- no need to imprison the account holders in Ritz Carton. But why would they be motivated to repatriate the profits back to Mother Russia? A patriotic virus? Or pestering with account freezes that Trumpian robbers are so fond of doing?

One mystery for me is why Canadians bother to produce oil with single-digit prices. Stopping tar oil production should be simple, just mothball the equipment.

One rumour in the oil patch is that USG will give them bail out. That could be a boon for green thinking idealists who are hostile to carbon energy production, because many deplorables do not like bailout (unless they are the beneficiaries). This could allow Trump to be defeated by a brain dead opponent.

daffyDuct , Mar 31 2020 2:28 utc | 101
"Bloomberg reports that Plains All American Pipeline asked its suppliers to scale back production,
and Plains and Enterprise Products Partners is requiring customers to prove they have a buyer or place to offload the crude they are shipping
The companies made the requests during the past week.

This is a clear sign that a growing glut of crude is overwhelming storage capacity. Pipeline companies are running out of storage space for oil. Coronavirus related lockdowns are resulting in plunging demand."

https://www.forexlive.com/news/!/pipeline-operators-asking-oil-producers-to-reduce-output-growing-glut-is-capacity-20200329

Bill , Mar 31 2020 15:34 utc | 137
@Vic

Hajj revenues poised to exceed $150bn by 2022: Experts

(the article refers to both Hajj and Umrah revenues)

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1151751/saudi-arabia

If that actually occurred it would exceed SA's 2019 $88bn oil revenue by a good margin

Canthama , Mar 31 2020 17:26 utc | 152
It is payback time for Russia no doubt, but Russia plays always the long game, any decision or concession will always be related to the long game. for Russia, which is the global leader in energy supplier (oil, gas & nuclear).
Russia got really mad with the Nordstream II delay, this is something Russia will not forget that easy, besides costing them a lot, it was some sort of global humiliation, that combination is pure fire. Even if the sanction are lifted now, Nordstream would start late 2020 and not late 2019....1 year delay anyway, so lifting sanctions won't matter here.
My first reaction is that Russia will not agree with the USA in anything, it will drive the shale market dry for a little longer, it must if it wants to cause long term problems for the players in the US, so no short term relieve for the shale players here, and if Russia does agree in the OPEC++ with the US and other export players then this will take time, and then US Gov can not intervene in the local production, more time...and no results, at the end the US will have to give up something, and I do not think lifting sanctions will be it, they may try it, bit it has no real value for Russia....only a global military retreat, something that will cost dearly, politically and in image will. serve Russia and its key strategic ally...China, mind you that cheap oil and gas helps China's recovery...March nbrs came in from China and it has already shown a better recovery than expected.
This is the only way I can see Russia playing the long game, together with China and a major strategic geopolitical defeat for the US.
JC , Mar 31 2020 17:46 utc | 154
Posted by: Canthama | Mar 31 2020 17:26 utc | 152

"This is the only way I can see Russia playing the long game, together with China and a major strategic geopolitical defeat for the US."

I like what you said, but Russia and China must continue supports one another. Both should also supports Iran and Venezuela too.

[Mar 24, 2020] The government will again bail out shale industry

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Mr McKenna , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 6:20 am GMT

@Kim

They're going to have to bail out/nationalize the shale oil industry.

Or "They" could just ignore it.

It has achieved these outcomes – despite steep decline rates and a constant need for huge numbers of new wells – through massive levels of junk debt forced into existence by almost zero interest rates and by having little to no profits since 2008.

Sounds like a really rotten business model. "steep decline rates and a constant need for huge numbers of new wells" describes an industry in eclipse, to put it kindly.

The break-even for shale oils wells varies, but $70 a barrel is a good average figure.

Even worse. This 'business' is essentially fake and should be shuttered. Every dollar thrown at it will be wasted. If everything in the world somehow reverses itself one day and shale oil is once again needed, we can restart it. Won't happen, though. Obsolete.

anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 7:38 am GMT
@Kim One part of the New Deal, that seemed to work very well for all parties concerned, was the Department of Agriculture's willingness to buy up excess grain/dairy production in order to encourage an ample supply of grain/dairy and a sustainable price, so that farmers could get out of the boom/bust cycle. These excess stores were intended to provide supplies when weather or disasters disrupted the harvests. The AG Dept. also established guidelines for farmers on how much acreage should be allocated to which type of food product, based upon its own estimates of aggregate demand and needs for strategic reserves. It even paid farmers to keep acreage fallow at times.

The Department of Energy could do something similar (provided the Congress should legislate it). For this to work, the government must limit foreign sources from supplying the US markets to serve only as augmentation to US energy production whenever/wherever the US energy producers can't meet the demand at the price level that the Energy Department sets. If the price is determined on an average COST+ ROI basis, our energy producers would effectively become utilities.

Miro23 , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 8:35 am GMT
@Kim

They're going to have to bail out/nationalize the shale oil industry.

Why? These were private failed investment decisions, so let the industry go bankrupt along with their shareholders and junk bond investors.

The world doesn't need oil supplied at $70 – And what has this got to do with the US public? They didn't make these shale oil investment decisions.

TBTF (Too Big To Fail) is another fake argument. If the investment banks had been allowed to fail in 2008, we would now have a smaller and more prudent banking sector. There are always some serious banks out there to pick up the pieces.

[Mar 11, 2020] Saudi's budget requires $85//bbl and flooding the market on no demand is stupid.

Mar 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Likklemore , Mar 10 2020 19:38 utc | 13

Posted by: Michael Droy | Mar 10 2020 18:34 utc | 8

" Oil. Saudi has 92 years of reserves.

No. There is no independent third party certification letter with respect to the balance of the kingdom's proven oil equivalent reserves. Could be near 40 years and that figure is with heaping generosity.

Poor Matt:
Twilight in the Dessert by Matt Simmons
he was found in his swimming pool. Tut, tut.

With tiny production costs, doubling output at half the price makes sense.

if you think they can, I have two acres of oceanfront at a fair deal --- priced in cents.

Saudi's budget requires $85//bbl and flooding the market on no demand is stupid.


karlof1 , Mar 10 2020 20:22 utc | 18

Can't completely agree with Tyler Durden here on his wide-ranging postulation, "Putin Launches 'War On US Shale' After Dumping MbS & Breaking Up OPEC+" mainly because it consists of too much speculation and not enough on facts and statements of those involved in the decisions. The Bloomberg story on which this is mostly based is almost 100% speculation. IMO, this is yet another attempt to bash Russia for the massive mistakes made by the Outlaw US Empire--for years, fracking's been known as a Ponzi Scheme to those closely watching, and it was already set to implode. This Sputnik article calls the Bloomberg item Bantha Pudu and offers a completely different explanation that looks at Saudi behavior which all the Western BigLie Media outlets omitted from their coverage.

Additional opinions and analyses were provided in this Sputnik article that tend to back the analysis from the previous article. But with the internal turmoil within Saudi over what's clearly an ongoing power struggle surly contributed to Saudi's choices. As with almost all reports coming from the West about anything Russian or Chinese, they must be treated with much skepticism. This makes at least the third time lowering the price of oil through increased production aimed to harm Russia and is likely the genuine reason at work again.

As for the Outlaw US Empire's fracking corps, we shall see if today's rebound is merely a dead cat bounce, as it's now close to impossible to further hide their Enron Accounting as their bonds descend to Junk status.

J Swift , Mar 10 2020 21:06 utc | 31
karlof1 @ 18

Alexander Mercouris at the Duran also recently posted his take, saying he felt the oil market meltdown was almost entirely the doing of MbS. Essentially he posits that MbS was getting more and more panicky, and Russia was in effect so preoccupied with the antics of Erdogan that they weren't paying MbS the attention he thought he deserved...and it isn't impossible that there was indeed a CIA plot to take him out. At any rate, Mercouris believes he was basically just firing one across the bow of Russia to get their attention, but of course by taking a demanding tone with Putin he almost guaranteed that he would receive the lesson in manners for which the Russians are becoming more and more well known. Mercouris feels after letting him sweat it a bit to learn his lesson, they will work out something with the Saudis, but their return demands may be stiff.

While I do tend to agree this was probably all precipitated by MbS and his mental instability, I can easily see the Russians long-range planning having long known that this day--for one reason or another-- would eventually come, and deciding to bask in the glow for just a bit more than Mercouris anticipates. After all, US fracked gas prices will now be massively greater than Russia can provide its gas for, which with Merkle on the ropes anyway Putin might feel is a very good time to send the Germans a reminder of what they risk if they don't consummate the Nordstream 2 project. And after the years of illegal sanctions, it must feel very good to be in Russia's position, where they know they can weather the storm far better than their antagonists. So while I don't think this was Russia's doing, I can easily see them taking their sweet time to come to a new deal, and even then at a price level that will keep the Saudis and US frackers on their back foot...and maybe try to put more distance between MbS and the US, too.

Peter AU1 , Mar 10 2020 22:17 utc | 39
Regarding Putin and MBS on the oil. Who funds and supports HTS al qaeda in Idlib. I am guessing the Saudi's have a big input there. Reports some time back that the drones AQ was using to attack the Russian airbase used high tech US components.
Tuyzentfloot , Mar 10 2020 22:23 utc | 41
I recall ex UK ambassador Peter Ford saying somewhere last year that the Saudis were outspent by an order of magnitude by Qatar in Syria. That Qatar is funding like 80% of it all. Things may have shifted a bit since.
Abe , Mar 10 2020 23:58 utc | 51
Regarding KSA and their oil gamble - if I were Houthi strategist, I would wait for a while for KSA to get knee deep into this experiment, then launch missile attack on their biggest refineries and pipes. With one salvo whole KSA statehood could be shattered. Sweet sweet revenge and guarantee not to get oppressed by KSA genocidal maniacs in future.
ARN , Mar 11 2020 0:43 utc | 57
and regarding how much oil is left in Saudi even here they are calling them liers..

"the Kingdom will desperately need another primary energy source in the relatively near future because it has nowhere near the amount of oil remaining that it has stated since the early 1970s"

https://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/International/The-Great-Saudi-Shale-Swindle.html

[Mar 11, 2020] KSA will need another energy source in the relatively near future because they have much less oil remaining that it has stated since the early 1970s

Mar 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

ARN , Mar 11 2020 0:43 utc | 58

and regarding how much oil is left in Saudi even here they are calling them liers..

"the Kingdom will desperately need another primary energy source in the relatively near future because it has nowhere near the amount of oil remaining that it has stated since the early 1970s"

https://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/International/The-Great-Saudi-Shale-Swindle.html

[Mar 10, 2020] Oil war between KSA and Russia

Mar 10, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

timbers , March 9, 2020 at 8:04 am

It could crash Mr Market oil stocks and wipe out fracking and such, creating possible liquidity issues and bankruptcies which could spread. But honestly I'm not up on the details if this could even cause any domino affects with bankruptcies, or not.

But to the Fed, Mr Market is the whole economy and nothing but the economy, Fed job #1 being to make stocks always go up.

Saudi Arabia is far more dependent on oil and tourism (also being hit) than Russia. Hence Russia's reserves I think would last far longer that SA's can.

The Rev Kev , March 9, 2020 at 8:37 am

Saudi Arabia is already in the hurt locker and has run down their financial reserves under Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud. In addition, their little expedition to Yemen is costing them billions of dollars per month which is not helping. With international tourism fading away, the threat of some two million pilgrims not being able to travel to Mecca and spending their money there as well as plummeting oil prices, 2020 is not going to be a good year for Saudi Arabia. Just to make things worse, they have their own problems with Coronavirus which may knock out important links in the Royal family.

timbers , March 9, 2020 at 8:58 am

Indeed. A pattern with Salman seems to be emerging, of him rashly starting wars or policies he can't win/finish. Makes you wonder if others in the royal family are seeing this and noticing SA is burning thru it's reserves and the solution might be a change in leadership?

The Rev Kev , March 9, 2020 at 9:06 am

I was just reading an article saying how Saudi Arabia need $60 a barrel for their budget but that now it is heading towards $20 a barrel. If they wanted to achieve a massive cost-saving, they could give their Royal Family the chop – perhaps literally so. Last I heard there were over 6,000 of them-

https://asiatimes.com/2020/03/oil-to-hit-20-amid-saudi-russian-price-war/

vlade , March 9, 2020 at 9:16 am

SA would have more problems with reserves than Russia, that's definite – if nothing else, Russia exports/has other things than oil, SA doesn't.

Oil stock crash would not cause Western recession. It could well cause recession in Texas and similar, but I very much doubt it would cause even US recession, as the problems in Texas & co would be offset by the much lower prices at the pump.

Oil debt crash would be much worse, but still I suspect brunt of it would be borne by investors, not banks.

farmboy , March 9, 2020 at 10:01 am

best energy writer Gregor McDonald breaks it down

barefoot charley , March 9, 2020 at 12:21 pm

Thanks for this excellent analysis! When oil consumption permanently plateaus, as it's about to, the stock and debt value of the industry . . . flatlines.
That's the good news from Grow or Die.

[Mar 10, 2020] The US shale sector is getting completely killed. A complete bloodbath. Billions of dollars in equity wiped out

Mar 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Mar 9 2020 20:12 utc | 36

This bird tweets :

"The U.S. shale sector is getting completely killed. A complete bloodbath. Billions of dollars in equity wiped out.

"Occidental Petroleum is down 44%. EOG is down 35%. Continental Resources down 40%. Smaller players like Parsley down more than 50%."

I suggest this bird look at one of those corp's balance sheets since they had very little equity but lots of liabilities (Assets=Liabilities+Equity) as Assets and Liabilities where allowed to grow with the use of interest-free money to keep the Ponzi Scheme afloat. Also recall that CEOs often get paid in shares which get dividends. Often those dividends are paid using the zero interest loan money leaving the corp with a bigger, unstable pile of debt and the CEO with a purse fattened by the loan instead of actual company performance, ie, profits.

[Mar 09, 2020] Russia's 2020 federal budget assumes a price of $42.4 per barrel of Urals crude oil blend (

Mar 09, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

S , Mar 9 2020 6:19 utc | 73

@Likklemore #26:
Russia will be fine all the way down to $20//bbl

Russia's 2020 federal budget assumes a price of $42.4 per barrel of Urals crude oil blend (the prices of other oil & gas exports, such as other crude oil blends, natural gas, LNG and petroleum products, are converted into Urals blend prices using statistical formulas). If the market price turns out to be higher, the surplus goes into the National Wealth Fund ($124 bn as of December 1, 2019; currency composition is 45% U.S. dollars, 45% euros, 10% pound sterling); conversely, if the price is lower, the deficit is financed from the NWF. This is known in Russia as "the budget rule" ( бюджетное правило ).

You can see the prices of various crude oil blends at the OilPrice.com 's Oil Price Charts page, but note that the Urals blend prices shown are lagging by three days as of the time of this comment. Generally, Urals blend price is somewhere between WTI and Brent blend prices, so it should be around $32/bbl at the moment. Meaning, Russia will now have to start taking money from the NWF.

If the low prices persist for a long period of time, Russia can balance the budget by devaluing the ruble, as its foreign debt is one of the lowest in the world -- no budget cuts are necessary. Russia's foreign exchange reserves currently stand at $570 bn (77.1% foreign currencies, 1.2% SDR, 0.7% reserve position in the IMF, 21.0% gold).

[Mar 08, 2020] Why "orphan" oil and gas wells are a growing problem for states

Mar 08, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Trailer Trash , Mar 6 2020 22:22 utc | 35

>USA shale producers

Soon people won't have to worry much about damage from new wells. Instead they will have to worry about existing-and-soon-to-be-abandoned wells. This is already a huge problem in Alberta, where "it's estimated that more than 155,000 Alberta energy wells have no economic potential and will eventually require reclamation".

But not to worry. It will only cost $47 Billion for Alberta to clean up the mess .

No surprise that it is worse in the US. I couldn't quickly find a cost estimate.

Nobody knows how many orphan and abandoned drilling sites litter farms, forests and backyards nationwide. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates there are more than a million of them. Unplugged wells can leak methane, an explosive gas, into neighborhoods and leach toxins into groundwater.

Why "orphan" oil and gas wells are a growing problem for states

[Mar 07, 2020] Is the U.S. Fracking Boom Based on Fraud?

Notable quotes:
"... As Fastow explained, in finance, the difference between a loophole and fraud isn't always easy to identify. And that may be something the U.S. fracking industry is working to its advantage. ..."
Mar 07, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on March 6, 2020 by Yves Smith Yves here. It really is remarkable how super low interest rates have led investors on a widespread basis to pour money down ratholes. Unicorns is one. Another has been fracking, which despite being another widespread cash sink, remarkably has kept sucking in funding. As we pointed out in 2014 :

John Dizard at the Financial Times (hat tip Scott) gives a more intriguing piece of the puzzle: the degree to which production is still chugging along despite it being uneconomical. The oil majors have been criticized for levering up to continue developing when it is cash-flow negative; they are presumably betting that prices will be much higher in short order.

But the same thing is happening further down the food chain, among players that don't begin to have the deep pockets of the industry behemoths: many of them are still in "drill baby, drill" mode. Per Dizard:

Even long-time energy industry people cannot remember an overinvestment cycle lasting as long as the one in unconventional US resources. It is not just the hydrocarbon engineers who have created this bubble; there are the financial engineers who came up with new ways to pay for it.

Justin Mikulka argues that one reason these persistently unprofitable fracking companies keep going is via fraud.

By Justin Mikulka, a freelance writer, audio and video producer living in Trumansburg, NY. Originally published at DeSmogBlog

In a 2016 interview with Fraud Magazine , former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow explained what he thought made him so successful while at the former energy corporation that's now infamous for financial scandal.

"I think my ability to do structured financing, to finance things off-balance sheet and to find ways to manipulate financial statements -- there's no nice way to say it. Like I said at the conference, I was good at finding loopholes."

As Fastow explained, in finance, the difference between a loophole and fraud isn't always easy to identify. And that may be something the U.S. fracking industry is working to its advantage.

Fastow, the convicted fraudster, does admit that what they did at Enron misled investors. "We created something that was monstrously misleading, but any one of those deals alone wasn't necessarily considered fraudulent," he said.

Fast-forward to today and a different part of the energy industry: The U.S. shale oil and gas industry has lost more than a quarter trillion dollars since 2007, while being sold to investors as an economic boom, even at oil prices much lower than those of recent years. Does that financial mismatch seem misleading? Or perhaps, familiar?

In an unexpected twist, Fastow now gives talks to the energy industry on ethical leadership.

Sounding the Alarm

Bethany McLean was the first reporter to question whether Enron was a financially sound company in a 2001 article for Fortune magazine. McLean went on to co-author the book The Smartest Guys in the Room , which documented the fall of Enron due to its fraudulent practices, including the ones Fastow engineered.

In 2018, McLean also published the book Saudi America , which highlighted many of the financial challenges the fracking industry has faced. In a recent interview for Texas Monthly's podcast Boomtown , McLean explained one of the very accepted and blatantly misleading practices of the fracking industry:

I'd raise a couple of points. One is that companies have long hyped these break-even numbers. They say we can break even at $25 a barrel, we can break even at $20 a barrel. And then you look at their consolidated financial statements and they are losing money. And so something is going wrong the people called it to me [sic] corporate math or investor economics. So they were trying to put together these investor pitch decks that would show investors a set of economics that weren't real. So they would show you that they could break even on a well at $25 barrel of oil but then yet you'd go to the corporate financial statements and they were losing money.

Is that a loophole? Where you can openly misrepresent to investors the financial reality of your business? Or is it fraud?

As more and more players in the fracking industry run out of options and file for bankruptcy, investors are beginning to ask questions about why all the money is gone.

"This is an industry that has always been filled with promoters and stock scams and swindlers and people have made billions when investors have lost their shirts."

In a bonus episode of #Boomtown , we speak to @bethanymac12 about the fracking industry. https://t.co/sSmXUM3ANu

-- Texas Monthly (@TexasMonthly) February 6, 2020

The Blank Check Companies

Much like with the housing crisis that caused the financial crisis of 2008, the fracking boom has led to Wall Street bankers finding innovative ways to finance a money-losing endeavor. Some companies are now even selling bonds based on future well performance , a concept similar to the mortgage-backed securities that led to the 2008 housing crisis.

Another Wall Street invention is what is called a "special purpose acquisition company" ( SPAC ), or, as they are also known, blank check companies. The way these investments work is a big bank or private equity firm backs a management team to raise money for the SPAC with the agreement that the leaders of the SPAC will then at some point make a "special purpose acquisition" -- which means they will find an existing company and buy it.

They are called blank check companies because the management is given a blank check to buy whatever they choose. In the 1980s, the Wall Street Journal ( WSJ ) noted that "blank-check companies were often associated with penny-stock frauds." In a 2017 article on the oil industry, the WSJ reported that " SPAC s were a hallmark of the frothy days before the financial crisis [of 2008]."

Understandably, SPAC s were often seen as a risky investment, but much like with the housing crisis, the biggest names on Wall Street are getting involved and giving the concept legitimacy, with Goldman Sachs starting to back SPAC s in 2016. And new fracking companies have come about as a result.

Ben Dell, a managing partner at investment firm Kimmeridge Energy, explained one of the risks of SPAC investments to the Wall Street Journal. " SPAC management teams have an incentive to spend the money they have raised no matter what, so they can collect fees and pay themselves a salary and stock options at the company they purchase," Dell said.

" SPAC s are the most egregious example in the industry of executive misalignment with investors," Dell told the WSJ .

As I have previously reported , one of the problems with the fracking industry is that CEO s are paid very well even when the companies lose money. According to Dell, SPAC s take this problem to a new "egregious" level.

Alta Mesa: A Star Is Born

To successfully raise money for a blank check company, having some star power in the management helps. As the Wall Street Journal has noted, investments in SPAC s " are largely bets on their executives ."

Jim Hackett would seem to be the ideal candidate to lead a SPAC in the fracking industry. Hackett has an impressive resume: the former CEO of fracking company Anadarko, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas , an executive committee member of the industry lobbying group American Petroleum Institute , and partner at the major private equity firm Riverstone Holdings.

In 2013 Hackett retired from Anadarko to attend Harvard Divinity School to get a degree in theology. However, he was still a partner at Riverstone and in 2017 was lured back to the fracking business to run a SPAC backed by Riverstone.

The SPAC raised a billion dollars while being advised by the biggest names in the business, including Goldman Sachs and CitiGroup. The initial blank check company was called Silver Run Acquisition Corp. II .

Hackett used the money to buy two companies in Oklahoma -- an oil producer and a pipeline -- and the new combined company Alta Mesa was valued at $3.8 billion.

The Future Was Bright for Alta Mesa

Hackett and Alta Mesa had big plans for making money fracking wells in Oklahoma, which included forecasts for big increases in oil and gas production from the newly acquired assets with very low break-even numbers.

When the Wall Street Journal reported the creation of Alta Mesa, it noted , "Alta Mesa's core acreage in Northeast Kingfisher County has among the lowest breakevens in the U.S. at around $25 per barrel, the company said." Because oil was well over that price at the time, the future looked good, according to Hackett and Alta Mesa. Forbes reported that Hackett said Alta Mesa's holdings were "oil that will be economic even at $40 WTI [West Texas Intermediate]" and oil has been well over that mark since Hackett made that statement in 2017.

Like break-even numbers, another area where misleading investors in the oil industry might be particularly easy is making overly optimistic forecasts about how much oil will be produced by future wells. The Wall Street Journal has documented this as a significant problem for the U.S. shale industry.

Description of Alta Mesa assets in investor proxy statement. Credit: Screen capture from proxy statement.

In early 2018 when touting the potential of the proposed new company Alta Mesa, Hackett said that "its average well would produce nearly 250,000 barrels of oil over its life." A year later, Alta Mesa said it expected those wells would produce less than half that, only 120,000 barrels of oil over the life of the well.

In May last year, Alta Mesa was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commissions ( SEC ) "for possible issues in its financial reporting."

Later in 2019, Alta Mesa filed for bankruptcy after writing down its assets by $3.1 billion. The billion-dollar blank check had been spent, and it took less than two years to lose it all.

SEC Investigation and Multiple Investor Lawsuits

Alta Mesa's assets were sold off earlier this year. The SEC declined to comment on the status of the investigation.

In May 2019, the Houston Chronicle reported , "Alta Mesa also is facing a series of lawsuits. Some shareholders are suing claiming they were defrauded and lied to about the value of the company and its assets when the company was formed."

One lawsuit filed by the Plumbers and Pipefitters National Pension Fund claims that the proxy statement for Alta Mesa contained materially false and misleading information. That filing lays out a lot of facts to support that claim.

Statement for complaint for violation of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Credit: Screen capture of court documents

Another lawsuit alleges that Alta Mesa didn't pay the proper amount of royalties to landowners, with state investigations into this issue.

Yet another lawsuit has been filed against Riverstone for " misleading statements ."

Investors are saying they were misled by Hackett and Riverstone. The allegations are based on the claims that were made about how much oil the company could produce. In hindsight, those claims appeared wildly inaccurate and misleading. But is that fraud? Or just taking advantage of a loophole?

In January, the Houston Chronicle summed up the situation as it described Alta Mesa's downfall : "It was a dramatic fall from grace after significantly overestimating its potential in Oklahoma's STACK shale play "

While Alta Mesa is a spectacular example of how fast the fracking business can make large sums of money disappear after "significantly overestimating its potential," it also likely marks the beginning of investor lawsuits against many other failing fracking companies with similar histories.

Learning From Enron

When Jim Hackett decided to go to Harvard Divinity School, several favorable profiles about his choice were written, including one on the Harvard website. That article noted that one of the reasons Hackett decided to go to school was because of "the collapse of Enron, a disaster that he attributed to 'a failure in leadership' among people he knew well."

The speed with which Hackett and Alta Mesa went bankrupt is remarkable, indicating a likely failure in leadership.

However, Hackett seems to have learned something from former Enron executive Andrew Fastow: that there is work for former executives like them to teach the energy industry about ethics and morality.

Hackett is now a lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin Center for Leadership and Ethics .

Fraud? Or Just a Laughing Matter?
Good reporting is hard work but sometimes involves a bit of luck. Like when a Wall Street Journal reporter , in a room full of people hired to make forecasts of fracked oil and gas production, learned about the existence of much more accurate methods for predicting that oil production. And also learned that with accuracy comes much lower estimates of shale oil reserves.

The WSJ article that followed quoted Texas A&M professor and expert on calculating oil and gas reserves John Lee. "There are a number of practices that are almost inevitably going to lead to overestimates," said Lee. Those are the practices used by the industry, with Alta Mesa serving as just one example.

Overestimates are why Alta Mesa received funding but now no longer exists.

The Wall Street Journal reported that during a presentation given by Lee, an audience member "stood up and challenged the engineers in attendance," asking why the forecasters weren't using accurate models like the ones that were available -- as Lee had described.

Another audience member explained the reason.

" Because we own stock," replied another engineer, "sparking laughter," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Is it misleading to laugh at your company's investors if you know the estimates you are giving them are inflated, but because you own the stock that benefits from those estimates, you do it anyway? Is that fraud? Perhaps that depends on if you get you get ethics lessons from Andrew Fastow and Jim Hackett.

Will the biggest innovation of the fracking revolution be making financial fraud a laughing matter?

A lot of people on EFT like to talk about how shale is fraudulent. That's simply not true:

You can't commit fraud when the rules are so lax you can just make shit up and it's still allowed.

-- Alpine High Fire Sale (@losingyourmoney) February 19, 2020


PlutoniumKun , March 6, 2020 at 6:43 am

While I've little doubt there is a lot of fraud, so much of the stupidity around fracking comes down to the old saying that its hard to make a man undrestand something when his job is to not understand it.

The financing of the oil and gas industry is almost entirely dependent on projections – projections of flow per well, and projections of future prices. All you need to do is make a few optimistic projections of one or both, and you've suddenly turned a dud into a highly valuable asset. Anyone can look at the pricing and question it, but with oil/gas, that is much harder with 'novel' types of well as there are few if any precedents. So if someone says 'the well is producing X per day, we can continue this flow for 3 years and when thats finished, we can drill down another 200 metres and replicate the same flow', there is nobody to contradict it. The drilling guys aren't going to argue, they want to keep their jobs. The geologist isn't going to argue, he has his mortgage to pay. The senior manager won't argue, he wants a promotion. The drilling company owners won't argue, they want to cash out. And the Wall Street financier won't argue, because he can pass on the risk to the equivelent of the last booms 'German bankers'.

So when someone like Arthur Berman – a geologist who has continuously being questioning the underlying geological assumptions – raises concerns – he's listened to politely, even invited to some conferences, but is otherwise ignored. Because its not in anyones interest to listen. There is literally nobody who's job it is to shout 'stop'. So much for self regulating markets.

While there may well be very severe economic consequences if and when this blows up in everyones face (and I suspect that Covid-19 will be the catalyst for this, oil demand is collapsing day by day), the big loser is the planet we depend on for our survival.

jackiebass , March 6, 2020 at 7:15 am

I live in NY on the PA border. Fracking is still happening south in PA but is only a fraction of what it once was. If you drive into PA you will see lots full of fracking materials that have sat there for a long time. At first for about two years it was a boom. The activity from fracking was amazing. Then as fast as it started it slowed down to a crawl. There are a few reasons in my opinion. The so called sweet sports were quickly fracked leaving less attractive sights. It was concealed that a fracked well produced most of it's gas in the first two years. After that the production from a well dropped off drastically. Locals soon lost their enthusiasm for fracking.There is still some fracking but it is hardly noticeable. Local people thought this would be great but attitudes soon soured. A few made big bucks at the expense of the rest. The fracking was in former coal country. The difference is coal lasted a lot longer. Now the majority of people in the area oppose fracking. I'm thankful that NY state banned fracking because of the negatives associated with fracking. I own 50 acres near the PA border. Before fracking was banned I was constantly hounded by leasing companies. I refuse to lease because to me my land was more important than a few bucks. I hope in my life time NY doesn't reverse the fracking ban. On another note there are wind farms where I live. I would leas to a wind company because there are fewer negatives and it's less intrusive.

jefemt , March 6, 2020 at 9:31 am

The good news is that if the companies were chasing you, you own the minerals. You can donate them to a conservation land trust and assure that no mineral extraction takes place, and get a tax benefit for the foregone production.

Win Win!

Ignacio , March 6, 2020 at 7:27 am

So, one first profits from fraud to later profit by lecturing everybody about ethics?
A-ma-zing!

Kevin C. Smith , March 6, 2020 at 10:02 am

BIG red flag for me when someone like Jim Hackett decides to go to Harvard Divinity School

Shiloh1 , March 6, 2020 at 10:22 am

Daniel Plainview was baptiized, but that was so he could drink Eli's milkshake later and club him to death with a bowling pin.

Colonel Smithers , March 6, 2020 at 11:09 am

Thank you, Kevin.

That sounds like my former CEO and chairman, Stephen Green, becoming an Anglican clergyman.

Ignacio , March 6, 2020 at 7:49 am

It can be argued that the money invested in many fracking companies with such inflated pay-back periods, ROIs or breakeven estimates, apart from fraud, could be considered as a private subsidy, just like Uber investors subsidize Uber taxi services. If we can blame it to low interest rates resulting in such subsidies, for fracking oil, unicorns, education, housing etc. to my knowledge this has only been argued in very few sites like here at NC or Wolf Street but merits a close examination. If pension and mutual funds are pouring a lot of money in such business with low to negative returns what consequences are to be expected in the future?

Trent , March 6, 2020 at 8:18 am

Eight to Ten years ago you would have seen giant trucks moving water and dirt from fracking sites when you got off the turnpike around Donegal PA. Since about 2015 or 2016 i'd say that completely died. Pittsburgh actually had one year of population gain due to the fracking boom but thats done. Yves mentioned investors and low interest rates chasing bad investments and fraud. I'd say the same thing is going on in healthcare based on my exp. of it and the amount of money floating around. We need higher interest rates to nip this stuff in the bud and re-balance the economy.

a different chris , March 6, 2020 at 12:11 pm

>We need higher interest rates

Yup. In so many ways.

tegnost , March 6, 2020 at 8:25 am

This pretty much says it all regarding the health of our eCONomy, but hey, after it all falls apart we should have plenty of reformed criminals to teach ethics classes

"The Wall Street Journal reported that during a presentation given by Lee, an audience member "stood up and challenged the engineers in attendance," asking why the forecasters weren't using accurate models like the ones that were available -- as Lee had described.

Another audience member explained the reason.

"Because we own stock," replied another engineer, "sparking laughter," according to the Wall Street Journal."

fresno dan , March 6, 2020 at 8:39 am

In a 2016 interview with Fraud Magazine,
==============================================
I have to say, I was shocked, SHOCKED to find that there is a magazine actually, only devoted to fraud – that is published bi-monthly.
AND than I was shocked to find out that the magaine actually, only devoted to fraud is ONLY published bi-monthly

Zamfir , March 6, 2020 at 2:19 pm

That's what they say. After you take subscription, you'll find they publish monthly.

The Rev Kev , March 6, 2020 at 9:39 am

Is the U.S. Fracking Boom Based on Fraud? Is the Pope Catholic? There are going to have to be major structural changes in the world's economy in the next few years and with the demand for oil dropping, prices have gotten cheaper which is turning fracking into a non-profit industry. In any case, how are you suppose to frack with sick crews? This is one industry that needs to go away before it causes any more damage. You'd find more honesty in a boiler room brokerage firm than in this industry.

xkeyscored , March 6, 2020 at 12:33 pm

I did wonder why 'Fracking Boom' was in the title.

Carolinian , March 6, 2020 at 10:11 am

There's a recent documentary called The Price of Everything that is about the enormous sums being paid for every latest fad in modern art. The show says that all the great masters, old and new, have been locked up by museums or the super rich and so a recent flood of new investors are looking for any excuse to spend lots of money on paintings. Apparently there is so much money sloshing around at the top of our unequal economy that that these plutocrats don't even care if they lose their shirts on bad investments. The main thing is to keep it out of the hands of the poor.

Clearly we as a society are suffering from affluenza, at least among the elites who should all be virus quarantined and then maybe we will forget to check back.The show tries to pretend that this money driven art world is a cool thing. It had this viewer thinking of guillotines.

xkeyscored , March 6, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Unfortunately, those most negatively affected by affluenza are those not infected with it.

JBird4049 , March 6, 2020 at 6:11 pm

Yes, like all the people who cannot see the art. It's mostly buried in storage. What is the point of having over two thousand years of art from multiple civilizations, if most of it is hidden away and often only known from catalog descriptions or cramped tiny pictures.

TimH , March 6, 2020 at 10:51 am

If Enron was fraud, how come Uber isn't considered fraud?

a different chris , March 6, 2020 at 12:12 pm

Because people can still make money off it.

No, not *you*. Not *us*. But people that "matter".

lyman alpha blob , March 6, 2020 at 1:46 pm

You must mean the insiders who suckered the rubes into taking shares off their hands at the IPO. IIRC the IPO price was over $70/share. Right now it's just under $32 with no signs of every being a profitable enterprise.

Grifters, charlatans and mountebanks everywhere you look.

franklin kirk , March 6, 2020 at 11:03 am

Charging mineral resource rent, which everyone has an equal claim to, would help to reduce the tendency of financial shenanigans. The profit motive is crack to rent seekers.

Colonel Smithers , March 6, 2020 at 11:06 am

Thank you, Yves.

Speaking of Enron, it is perhaps appropriate that my employer's head of non core assets, toxic waste for fire sale, came from Enron. Standard Chartered has some, too.

Polar Donkey , March 6, 2020 at 11:32 am

It seems like the Russians today decided to put the final nail in U.S. fracking industry and turn the screws on Saudi Arabia.

inode_buddha , March 6, 2020 at 2:22 pm

Is the US a fraud?
.
Fixed it for you.

rd , March 6, 2020 at 5:31 pm

I think the big issue goes back to the investors and bond rating agencies, similar to the subprime mortgage crisis. If bondholders aren't willing to do the homework, then they don't get paid for the risk that they are undertaking. with the multiple prediction tools for well production, you can make up an optimistic and pessimistic case. If the bond yield doesn't cover that risk to your satisfaction, then you don't buy the bond or you demand a higher interest yield and lower bond price.

Instead, it seems like the industry is raising money from people who don't want to think more than a few months ahead on a multi-year investment. The challenges faced by the fracking industry have been well publicized for several years now. If an investor doesn't understand those challenges now and isn't looking at specific methods of calculating production yield etc., then they have only themselves to blame if their investment loses money.

This is a very different issue than if somebody flat out lies about whether or not wells exist etc.

A single well can make financial sense even if there will never be a net profit from it. Fracking is pretty similar to the Hollywood film industry where nobody ever has any net profits despite living high on the hog. "Don't ever settle for net profits. It's called 'creative accounting'." – Lynda Carter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting

elkern , March 6, 2020 at 5:52 pm

I dunno. There may be a sucker born every minute, but I can't picture enough of them getting born with a million (or billion) Dollars to blow on rackets like this to keep it going this long.

Sad to see that the Plumbers' Union Pension Fund was a victim; I hope that's not a pattern, but it would make sense. If it's a pattern, then it's no wonder the Fed tried so hard to postpone the next Crash until after the elections. How much junk paper has Wall Street sold to other Pension Funds? States & Municipalities are already squeezed by "unfunded liabilities"; how much repackaged funky Fracking paper are held by public (governmental) agencies? Damn, this is gonna be a mess.

I'd advise investing in popcorn, except that my 401k will probably evaporate soon, so maybe it's pitchforks.

JBird4049 , March 6, 2020 at 6:01 pm

CFO Fastow of Enron. How nice to see him land on his feet. The company made listening to the rolling blackout reports for California while driving to work a requirement.

[Mar 06, 2020] Is the U.S. Fracking Boom Based on Fraud?

Mar 06, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on March 6, 2020 by Yves Smith Yves here. It really is remarkable how super low interest rates have led investors on a widespread basis to pour money down ratholes. Unicorns is one. Another has been fracking, which despite being another widespread cash sink, remarkably has kept sucking in funding. As we pointed out in 2014 :

John Dizard at the Financial Times (hat tip Scott) gives a more intriguing piece of the puzzle: the degree to which production is still chugging along despite it being uneconomical. The oil majors have been criticized for levering up to continue developing when it is cash-flow negative; they are presumably betting that prices will be much higher in short order.

But the same thing is happening further down the food chain, among players that don't begin to have the deep pockets of the industry behemoths: many of them are still in "drill baby, drill" mode. Per Dizard:

Even long-time energy industry people cannot remember an overinvestment cycle lasting as long as the one in unconventional US resources. It is not just the hydrocarbon engineers who have created this bubble; there are the financial engineers who came up with new ways to pay for it.

Justin Mikulka argues that one reason these persistently unprofitable fracking companies keep going is via fraud.

By Justin Mikulka, a freelance writer, audio and video producer living in Trumansburg, NY. Originally published at DeSmogBlog

In a 2016 interview with Fraud Magazine , former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow explained what he thought made him so successful while at the former energy corporation that's now infamous for financial scandal.

"I think my ability to do structured financing, to finance things off-balance sheet and to find ways to manipulate financial statements -- there's no nice way to say it. Like I said at the conference, I was good at finding loopholes."

As Fastow explained, in finance, the difference between a loophole and fraud isn't always easy to identify. And that may be something the U.S. fracking industry is working to its advantage.

Fastow, the convicted fraudster, does admit that what they did at Enron misled investors. "We created something that was monstrously misleading, but any one of those deals alone wasn't necessarily considered fraudulent," he said.

Fast-forward to today and a different part of the energy industry: The U.S. shale oil and gas industry has lost more than a quarter trillion dollars since 2007, while being sold to investors as an economic boom, even at oil prices much lower than those of recent years. Does that financial mismatch seem misleading? Or perhaps, familiar?

In an unexpected twist, Fastow now gives talks to the energy industry on ethical leadership.

Sounding the Alarm

Bethany McLean was the first reporter to question whether Enron was a financially sound company in a 2001 article for Fortune magazine. McLean went on to co-author the book The Smartest Guys in the Room , which documented the fall of Enron due to its fraudulent practices, including the ones Fastow engineered.

In 2018, McLean also published the book Saudi America , which highlighted many of the financial challenges the fracking industry has faced. In a recent interview for Texas Monthly's podcast Boomtown , McLean explained one of the very accepted and blatantly misleading practices of the fracking industry:

I'd raise a couple of points. One is that companies have long hyped these break-even numbers. They say we can break even at $25 a barrel, we can break even at $20 a barrel. And then you look at their consolidated financial statements and they are losing money. And so something is going wrong the people called it to me [sic] corporate math or investor economics. So they were trying to put together these investor pitch decks that would show investors a set of economics that weren't real. So they would show you that they could break even on a well at $25 barrel of oil but then yet you'd go to the corporate financial statements and they were losing money.

Is that a loophole? Where you can openly misrepresent to investors the financial reality of your business? Or is it fraud?

As more and more players in the fracking industry run out of options and file for bankruptcy, investors are beginning to ask questions about why all the money is gone.

"This is an industry that has always been filled with promoters and stock scams and swindlers and people have made billions when investors have lost their shirts."

In a bonus episode of #Boomtown , we speak to @bethanymac12 about the fracking industry. https://t.co/sSmXUM3ANu

-- Texas Monthly (@TexasMonthly) February 6, 2020

The Blank Check Companies

Much like with the housing crisis that caused the financial crisis of 2008, the fracking boom has led to Wall Street bankers finding innovative ways to finance a money-losing endeavor. Some companies are now even selling bonds based on future well performance , a concept similar to the mortgage-backed securities that led to the 2008 housing crisis.

Another Wall Street invention is what is called a "special purpose acquisition company" ( SPAC ), or, as they are also known, blank check companies. The way these investments work is a big bank or private equity firm backs a management team to raise money for the SPAC with the agreement that the leaders of the SPAC will then at some point make a "special purpose acquisition" -- which means they will find an existing company and buy it.

They are called blank check companies because the management is given a blank check to buy whatever they choose. In the 1980s, the Wall Street Journal ( WSJ ) noted that "blank-check companies were often associated with penny-stock frauds." In a 2017 article on the oil industry, the WSJ reported that " SPAC s were a hallmark of the frothy days before the financial crisis [of 2008]."

Understandably, SPAC s were often seen as a risky investment, but much like with the housing crisis, the biggest names on Wall Street are getting involved and giving the concept legitimacy, with Goldman Sachs starting to back SPAC s in 2016. And new fracking companies have come about as a result.

Ben Dell, a managing partner at investment firm Kimmeridge Energy, explained one of the risks of SPAC investments to the Wall Street Journal. " SPAC management teams have an incentive to spend the money they have raised no matter what, so they can collect fees and pay themselves a salary and stock options at the company they purchase," Dell said.

" SPAC s are the most egregious example in the industry of executive misalignment with investors," Dell told the WSJ .

As I have previously reported , one of the problems with the fracking industry is that CEO s are paid very well even when the companies lose money. According to Dell, SPAC s take this problem to a new "egregious" level.

Alta Mesa: A Star Is Born

To successfully raise money for a blank check company, having some star power in the management helps. As the Wall Street Journal has noted, investments in SPAC s " are largely bets on their executives ."

Jim Hackett would seem to be the ideal candidate to lead a SPAC in the fracking industry. Hackett has an impressive resume: the former CEO of fracking company Anadarko, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas , an executive committee member of the industry lobbying group American Petroleum Institute , and partner at the major private equity firm Riverstone Holdings.

In 2013 Hackett retired from Anadarko to attend Harvard Divinity School to get a degree in theology. However, he was still a partner at Riverstone and in 2017 was lured back to the fracking business to run a SPAC backed by Riverstone.

The SPAC raised a billion dollars while being advised by the biggest names in the business, including Goldman Sachs and CitiGroup. The initial blank check company was called Silver Run Acquisition Corp. II .

Hackett used the money to buy two companies in Oklahoma -- an oil producer and a pipeline -- and the new combined company Alta Mesa was valued at $3.8 billion.

The Future Was Bright for Alta Mesa

Hackett and Alta Mesa had big plans for making money fracking wells in Oklahoma, which included forecasts for big increases in oil and gas production from the newly acquired assets with very low break-even numbers.

When the Wall Street Journal reported the creation of Alta Mesa, it noted , "Alta Mesa's core acreage in Northeast Kingfisher County has among the lowest breakevens in the U.S. at around $25 per barrel, the company said." Because oil was well over that price at the time, the future looked good, according to Hackett and Alta Mesa. Forbes reported that Hackett said Alta Mesa's holdings were "oil that will be economic even at $40 WTI [West Texas Intermediate]" and oil has been well over that mark since Hackett made that statement in 2017.

Like break-even numbers, another area where misleading investors in the oil industry might be particularly easy is making overly optimistic forecasts about how much oil will be produced by future wells. The Wall Street Journal has documented this as a significant problem for the U.S. shale industry.

Description of Alta Mesa assets in investor proxy statement. Credit: Screen capture from proxy statement.

In early 2018 when touting the potential of the proposed new company Alta Mesa, Hackett said that "its average well would produce nearly 250,000 barrels of oil over its life." A year later, Alta Mesa said it expected those wells would produce less than half that, only 120,000 barrels of oil over the life of the well.

In May last year, Alta Mesa was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commissions ( SEC ) "for possible issues in its financial reporting."

Later in 2019, Alta Mesa filed for bankruptcy after writing down its assets by $3.1 billion. The billion-dollar blank check had been spent, and it took less than two years to lose it all.

SEC Investigation and Multiple Investor Lawsuits

Alta Mesa's assets were sold off earlier this year. The SEC declined to comment on the status of the investigation.

In May 2019, the Houston Chronicle reported , "Alta Mesa also is facing a series of lawsuits. Some shareholders are suing claiming they were defrauded and lied to about the value of the company and its assets when the company was formed."

One lawsuit filed by the Plumbers and Pipefitters National Pension Fund claims that the proxy statement for Alta Mesa contained materially false and misleading information. That filing lays out a lot of facts to support that claim.

Statement for complaint for violation of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Credit: Screen capture of court documents

Another lawsuit alleges that Alta Mesa didn't pay the proper amount of royalties to landowners, with state investigations into this issue.

Yet another lawsuit has been filed against Riverstone for " misleading statements ."

Investors are saying they were misled by Hackett and Riverstone. The allegations are based on the claims that were made about how much oil the company could produce. In hindsight, those claims appeared wildly inaccurate and misleading. But is that fraud? Or just taking advantage of a loophole?

In January, the Houston Chronicle summed up the situation as it described Alta Mesa's downfall : "It was a dramatic fall from grace after significantly overestimating its potential in Oklahoma's STACK shale play "

While Alta Mesa is a spectacular example of how fast the fracking business can make large sums of money disappear after "significantly overestimating its potential," it also likely marks the beginning of investor lawsuits against many other failing fracking companies with similar histories.

Learning From Enron

When Jim Hackett decided to go to Harvard Divinity School, several favorable profiles about his choice were written, including one on the Harvard website. That article noted that one of the reasons Hackett decided to go to school was because of "the collapse of Enron, a disaster that he attributed to 'a failure in leadership' among people he knew well."

The speed with which Hackett and Alta Mesa went bankrupt is remarkable, indicating a likely failure in leadership.

However, Hackett seems to have learned something from former Enron executive Andrew Fastow: that there is work for former executives like them to teach the energy industry about ethics and morality.

Hackett is now a lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin Center for Leadership and Ethics .

Fraud? Or Just a Laughing Matter?
Good reporting is hard work but sometimes involves a bit of luck. Like when a Wall Street Journal reporter , in a room full of people hired to make forecasts of fracked oil and gas production, learned about the existence of much more accurate methods for predicting that oil production. And also learned that with accuracy comes much lower estimates of shale oil reserves.

The WSJ article that followed quoted Texas A&M professor and expert on calculating oil and gas reserves John Lee. "There are a number of practices that are almost inevitably going to lead to overestimates," said Lee. Those are the practices used by the industry, with Alta Mesa serving as just one example.

Overestimates are why Alta Mesa received funding but now no longer exists.

The Wall Street Journal reported that during a presentation given by Lee, an audience member "stood up and challenged the engineers in attendance," asking why the forecasters weren't using accurate models like the ones that were available -- as Lee had described.

Another audience member explained the reason.

" Because we own stock," replied another engineer, "sparking laughter," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Is it misleading to laugh at your company's investors if you know the estimates you are giving them are inflated, but because you own the stock that benefits from those estimates, you do it anyway? Is that fraud? Perhaps that depends on if you get you get ethics lessons from Andrew Fastow and Jim Hackett.

Will the biggest innovation of the fracking revolution be making financial fraud a laughing matter?

A lot of people on EFT like to talk about how shale is fraudulent. That's simply not true:

You can't commit fraud when the rules are so lax you can just make shit up and it's still allowed.

-- Alpine High Fire Sale (@losingyourmoney) February 19, 2020


PlutoniumKun , March 6, 2020 at 6:43 am

While I've little doubt there is a lot of fraud, so much of the stupidity around fracking comes down to the old saying that its hard to make a man undrestand something when his job is to not understand it.

The financing of the oil and gas industry is almost entirely dependent on projections – projections of flow per well, and projections of future prices. All you need to do is make a few optimistic projections of one or both, and you've suddenly turned a dud into a highly valuable asset. Anyone can look at the pricing and question it, but with oil/gas, that is much harder with 'novel' types of well as there are few if any precedents. So if someone says 'the well is producing X per day, we can continue this flow for 3 years and when thats finished, we can drill down another 200 metres and replicate the same flow', there is nobody to contradict it. The drilling guys aren't going to argue, they want to keep their jobs. The geologist isn't going to argue, he has his mortgage to pay. The senior manager won't argue, he wants a promotion. The drilling company owners won't argue, they want to cash out. And the Wall Street financier won't argue, because he can pass on the risk to the equivelent of the last booms 'German bankers'.

So when someone like Arthur Berman – a geologist who has continuously being questioning the underlying geological assumptions – raises concerns – he's listened to politely, even invited to some conferences, but is otherwise ignored. Because its not in anyones interest to listen. There is literally nobody who's job it is to shout 'stop'. So much for self regulating markets.

While there may well be very severe economic consequences if and when this blows up in everyones face (and I suspect that Covid-19 will be the catalyst for this, oil demand is collapsing day by day), the big loser is the planet we depend on for our survival.

jackiebass , March 6, 2020 at 7:15 am

I live in NY on the PA border. Fracking is still happening south in PA but is only a fraction of what it once was. If you drive into PA you will see lots full of fracking materials that have sat there for a long time. At first for about two years it was a boom. The activity from fracking was amazing. Then as fast as it started it slowed down to a crawl. There are a few reasons in my opinion. The so called sweet sports were quickly fracked leaving less attractive sights. It was concealed that a fracked well produced most of it's gas in the first two years. After that the production from a well dropped off drastically. Locals soon lost their enthusiasm for fracking.There is still some fracking but it is hardly noticeable. Local people thought this would be great but attitudes soon soured. A few made big bucks at the expense of the rest. The fracking was in former coal country. The difference is coal lasted a lot longer. Now the majority of people in the area oppose fracking. I'm thankful that NY state banned fracking because of the negatives associated with fracking. I own 50 acres near the PA border. Before fracking was banned I was constantly hounded by leasing companies. I refuse to lease because to me my land was more important than a few bucks. I hope in my life time NY doesn't reverse the fracking ban. On another note there are wind farms where I live. I would leas to a wind company because there are fewer negatives and it's less intrusive.

jefemt , March 6, 2020 at 9:31 am

The good news is that if the companies were chasing you, you own the minerals. You can donate them to a conservation land trust and assure that no mineral extraction takes place, and get a tax benefit for the foregone production.

Win Win!

Ignacio , March 6, 2020 at 7:27 am

So, one first profits from fraud to later profit by lecturing everybody about ethics?
A-ma-zing!

Kevin C. Smith , March 6, 2020 at 10:02 am

BIG red flag for me when someone like Jim Hackett decides to go to Harvard Divinity School

Shiloh1 , March 6, 2020 at 10:22 am

Daniel Plainview was baptiized, but that was so he could drink Eli's milkshake later and club him to death with a bowling pin.

Colonel Smithers , March 6, 2020 at 11:09 am

Thank you, Kevin.

That sounds like my former CEO and chairman, Stephen Green, becoming an Anglican clergyman.

Ignacio , March 6, 2020 at 7:49 am

It can be argued that the money invested in many fracking companies with such inflated pay-back periods, ROIs or breakeven estimates, apart from fraud, could be considered as a private subsidy, just like Uber investors subsidize Uber taxi services. If we can blame it to low interest rates resulting in such subsidies, for fracking oil, unicorns, education, housing etc. to my knowledge this has only been argued in very few sites like here at NC or Wolf Street but merits a close examination. If pension and mutual funds are pouring a lot of money in such business with low to negative returns what consequences are to be expected in the future?

Trent , March 6, 2020 at 8:18 am

Eight to Ten years ago you would have seen giant trucks moving water and dirt from fracking sites when you got off the turnpike around Donegal PA. Since about 2015 or 2016 i'd say that completely died. Pittsburgh actually had one year of population gain due to the fracking boom but thats done. Yves mentioned investors and low interest rates chasing bad investments and fraud. I'd say the same thing is going on in healthcare based on my exp. of it and the amount of money floating around. We need higher interest rates to nip this stuff in the bud and re-balance the economy.

a different chris , March 6, 2020 at 12:11 pm

>We need higher interest rates

Yup. In so many ways.

tegnost , March 6, 2020 at 8:25 am

This pretty much says it all regarding the health of our eCONomy, but hey, after it all falls apart we should have plenty of reformed criminals to teach ethics classes

"The Wall Street Journal reported that during a presentation given by Lee, an audience member "stood up and challenged the engineers in attendance," asking why the forecasters weren't using accurate models like the ones that were available -- as Lee had described.

Another audience member explained the reason.

"Because we own stock," replied another engineer, "sparking laughter," according to the Wall Street Journal."

fresno dan , March 6, 2020 at 8:39 am

In a 2016 interview with Fraud Magazine,
==============================================
I have to say, I was shocked, SHOCKED to find that there is a magazine actually, only devoted to fraud – that is published bi-monthly.
AND than I was shocked to find out that the magaine actually, only devoted to fraud is ONLY published bi-monthly

Zamfir , March 6, 2020 at 2:19 pm

That's what they say. After you take subscription, you'll find they publish monthly.

The Rev Kev , March 6, 2020 at 9:39 am

Is the U.S. Fracking Boom Based on Fraud? Is the Pope Catholic? There are going to have to be major structural changes in the world's economy in the next few years and with the demand for oil dropping, prices have gotten cheaper which is turning fracking into a non-profit industry. In any case, how are you suppose to frack with sick crews? This is one industry that needs to go away before it causes any more damage. You'd find more honesty in a boiler room brokerage firm than in this industry.

xkeyscored , March 6, 2020 at 12:33 pm

I did wonder why 'Fracking Boom' was in the title.

Carolinian , March 6, 2020 at 10:11 am

There's a recent documentary called The Price of Everything that is about the enormous sums being paid for every latest fad in modern art. The show says that all the great masters, old and new, have been locked up by museums or the super rich and so a recent flood of new investors are looking for any excuse to spend lots of money on paintings. Apparently there is so much money sloshing around at the top of our unequal economy that that these plutocrats don't even care if they lose their shirts on bad investments. The main thing is to keep it out of the hands of the poor.

Clearly we as a society are suffering from affluenza, at least among the elites who should all be virus quarantined and then maybe we will forget to check back.The show tries to pretend that this money driven art world is a cool thing. It had this viewer thinking of guillotines.

xkeyscored , March 6, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Unfortunately, those most negatively affected by affluenza are those not infected with it.

JBird4049 , March 6, 2020 at 6:11 pm

Yes, like all the people who cannot see the art. It's mostly buried in storage. What is the point of having over two thousand years of art from multiple civilizations, if most of it is hidden away and often only known from catalog descriptions or cramped tiny pictures.

TimH , March 6, 2020 at 10:51 am

If Enron was fraud, how come Uber isn't considered fraud?

a different chris , March 6, 2020 at 12:12 pm

Because people can still make money off it.

No, not *you*. Not *us*. But people that "matter".

lyman alpha blob , March 6, 2020 at 1:46 pm

You must mean the insiders who suckered the rubes into taking shares off their hands at the IPO. IIRC the IPO price was over $70/share. Right now it's just under $32 with no signs of every being a profitable enterprise.

Grifters, charlatans and mountebanks everywhere you look.

franklin kirk , March 6, 2020 at 11:03 am

Charging mineral resource rent, which everyone has an equal claim to, would help to reduce the tendency of financial shenanigans. The profit motive is crack to rent seekers.

Colonel Smithers , March 6, 2020 at 11:06 am

Thank you, Yves.

Speaking of Enron, it is perhaps appropriate that my employer's head of non core assets, toxic waste for fire sale, came from Enron. Standard Chartered has some, too.

Polar Donkey , March 6, 2020 at 11:32 am

It seems like the Russians today decided to put the final nail in U.S. fracking industry and turn the screws on Saudi Arabia.

inode_buddha , March 6, 2020 at 2:22 pm

Is the US a fraud?
.
Fixed it for you.

rd , March 6, 2020 at 5:31 pm

I think the big issue goes back to the investors and bond rating agencies, similar to the subprime mortgage crisis. If bondholders aren't willing to do the homework, then they don't get paid for the risk that they are undertaking. with the multiple prediction tools for well production, you can make up an optimistic and pessimistic case. If the bond yield doesn't cover that risk to your satisfaction, then you don't buy the bond or you demand a higher interest yield and lower bond price.

Instead, it seems like the industry is raising money from people who don't want to think more than a few months ahead on a multi-year investment. The challenges faced by the fracking industry have been well publicized for several years now. If an investor doesn't understand those challenges now and isn't looking at specific methods of calculating production yield etc., then they have only themselves to blame if their investment loses money.

This is a very different issue than if somebody flat out lies about whether or not wells exist etc.

A single well can make financial sense even if there will never be a net profit from it. Fracking is pretty similar to the Hollywood film industry where nobody ever has any net profits despite living high on the hog. "Don't ever settle for net profits. It's called 'creative accounting'." – Lynda Carter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting

elkern , March 6, 2020 at 5:52 pm

I dunno. There may be a sucker born every minute, but I can't picture enough of them getting born with a million (or billion) Dollars to blow on rackets like this to keep it going this long.

Sad to see that the Plumbers' Union Pension Fund was a victim; I hope that's not a pattern, but it would make sense. If it's a pattern, then it's no wonder the Fed tried so hard to postpone the next Crash until after the elections. How much junk paper has Wall Street sold to other Pension Funds? States & Municipalities are already squeezed by "unfunded liabilities"; how much repackaged funky Fracking paper are held by public (governmental) agencies? Damn, this is gonna be a mess.

I'd advise investing in popcorn, except that my 401k will probably evaporate soon, so maybe it's pitchforks.

JBird4049 , March 6, 2020 at 6:01 pm

CFO Fastow of Enron. How nice to see him land on his feet. The company made listening to the rolling blackout reports for California while driving to work a requirement.

[Feb 16, 2020] Africa's largest oil nation could see production drop 35%

Feb 16, 2020 | www.rt.com

Africa's largest oil producer could see oil production fall by 35 percent as low oil prices and regulatory uncertainty threaten to prompt oil majors to postpone final investment decisions. OPEC member Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa and it pumped 1.776 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) in January 2020, according to OPEC's secondary sources in its monthly report published this week. Adding condensate production, Nigeria's total oil output exceeds 2 million bpd.

However, three deepwater projects offshore Nigeria, operated by oil majors Exxon, Shell, and Total, could see their start-up dates delayed by two to four years to the late 2020s, according to the research WoodMac shared with Reuters ahead of publishing it on Friday.

Also on rt.com Russia to bring back to life Nigeria's major steel plant project, abandoned for decades

The regulatory changes in Nigeria's oil industry and the still pending final approval of a petroleum bill - after two decades of delays and wrangling - act as deterrents to the oil majors' investment decisions, according to Wood Mackenzie.

Moreover, the three deepwater projects - which could add a combined 300,000 bpd to Nigeria's production - are not profitable at current oil prices with Brent Crude below $60 a barrel, the consultancy noted.

Just this week, Nigeria assured foreign oil investors that the country is open to business and can guarantee high returns on investment, the country's President Muhammadu Buhari told an energy conference on Monday.

Nigeria is set to finally pass a new bill regulating the petroleum industry by the middle of this year, after nearly two decades of delays, the country's Minister of Petroleum Timipre Sylva said at the same event.

Also on rt.com Africa to become 'land of opportunity' if US & China strike trade deal – Bank of America

Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said at the conference that "We are, more than ever before, committed to working with stakeholders to increase our crude oil production from 2.3 million bbl per day to 3 million bbl per day."

The recent amendment to the Deep Offshore Act will improve financial stability and investor confidence, NNPC's head said.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

[Feb 09, 2020] US troops have stolen tens of millions in Iraq and Afghanistan

Many of these crimes grew out of shortcomings in the military's management of the deployments that experts say are still present: a heavy dependence on cash transactions, a hasty award process for high-value contracts, loose and harried oversight within the ranks, and a regional culture of corruption that proved seductive to the Americans troops transplanted there.
Notable quotes:
"... "this thing going on" ..."
"... a regional culture of corruption that proved seductive to the Americans troops transplanted there. ..."
May 09, 2015 | slate.com

The Fraud of War: U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have stolen tens of millions through bribery, theft, and rigged contracts.

U.S. Army Specialist Stephanie Charboneau sat at the center of a complex trucking network in Forward Operating Base Fenty near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that distributed daily tens of thousands of gallons of what troops called "liquid gold": the refined petroleum that fueled the international coalition's vehicles, planes, and generators.

A prominent sign in the base read: "The Army Won't Go If The Fuel Don't Flow." But Charboneau, 31, a mother of two from Washington state, felt alienated after a supervisor's harsh rebuke. Her work was a dreary routine of recording fuel deliveries in a computer and escorting trucks past a gate. But it was soon to take a dark turn into high-value crime.

She began an affair with a civilian, Jonathan Hightower, who worked for a Pentagon contractor that distributed fuel from Fenty, and one day in March 2010 he told her about "this thing going on" at other U.S. military bases around Afghanistan, she recalled in a recent telephone interview.

Troops were selling the U.S. military's fuel to Afghan locals on the side, and pocketing the proceeds. When Hightower suggested they start doing the same, Charboneau said, she agreed.

In so doing, Charboneau contributed to thefts by U.S. military personnel of at least $15 million worth of fuel since the start of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. And eventually she became one of at least 115 enlisted personnel and military officers convicted since 2005 of committing theft, bribery, and contract-rigging crimes valued at $52 million during their deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a comprehensive tally of court records by the Center for Public Integrity.

Many of these crimes grew out of shortcomings in the military's management of the deployments that experts say are still present: a heavy dependence on cash transactions, a hasty award process for high-value contracts, loose and harried oversight within the ranks, and a regional culture of corruption that proved seductive to the Americans troops transplanted there.

Charboneau, whose Facebook posts reveal a bright-eyed woman with a shoulder tattoo and a huge grin, snuggling with pets and celebrating the 2015 New Year with her children in Seattle Seahawks jerseys, now sits in Carswell federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, serving a seven-year sentence for her crime.

[Feb 09, 2020] Trump demand for 50% of Iraq oil revenue sound exactly like a criminal mob boss

Highly recommended!
Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

Tucker , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 12:27 pm GMT

I've heard and read about a claim that Trump actually called PM Abdul Mahdi and demanded that Iraq hand over 50 percent of their proceeds from selling their oil to the USA, and then threatened Mahdi that he would unleash false flag attacks against the Iraqi government and its people if he did not submit to this act of Mafia-like criminal extortion. Mahdi told Trump to kiss his buttocks and that he wasn't going to turn over half of the profits from oil sales.

This makes Trump sound exactly like a criminal mob boss, especially in light of the fact that the USA is now the world's #1 exporter of oil – a fact that the arrogant Orange Man has even boasted about in recent months. Can anyone confirm that this claim is accurate? If so, then the more I learn about Trump the more sleazy and gangster like he becomes.

I mean, think about it. Bush and Cheney and mostly jewish neocons LIED us into Iraq based on bald faced lies, fabricated evidence, and exaggerated threats that they KNEW did not exist. We destroyed that country, captured and killed it's leader – who used to be a big buddy of the USA when we had a use for him – and Bush's crime gang killed close to 2 million innocent Iraqis and wrecked their economy and destroyed their infrastructure. And, now, after all that death, destruction and carnage – which Trump claimed in 2016 he did not approve of – but, now that Trump is sitting on the throne in the Oval office – he has the audacity and the gall to demand that Iraq owes the USA 50 percent of their oil profits? And, that he won't honor and respect their demand to pull our troops out of their sovereign nation unless they PAY US back for the gigantic waste of tax payers money that was spent building permanent bases inside their country?

Not one Iraqi politician voted for the appropriations bill that financed the construction of those military bases; that was our mistake, the mistake of our US congress whichever POTUS signed off on it.

melpol , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 1:41 pm GMT
...Trump learned the power of the purse on the streets of NYC, he survived by playing ball with the Jewish and Italian Mafia. Now he has become the ultimate Godfather, and the world must listen to his commands. Watch and listen as the powerful and mighty crumble under US Hegemony.
World War Jew , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 1:42 pm GMT
Right TG, traditionally, as you said up there first, and legally too, under the supreme law of the land. Economic sanctions are subject to the same UNSC supervision as forcible coercion.

UN Charter Article 41: "The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations."

https://www.un.org/en/charter-united-nations/index.html

US "sanctions" require UNSC authorization. Unilateral sanctions are nothing but illegal coercive intervention, as the non-intervention principle is customary international law, which is US federal common law.

The G-192, that is, the entire world, has affirmed this law. That's why the US is trying to defund UNCTAD as redundant with the WTO (UNCTAD is the G-192's primary forum.) In any case, now that the SCO is in a position to enforce this law at gunpoint with its overwhelmingly superior missile technology, the US is going to get stomped and tased until it complies and stops resisting.

Charlie , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 7:53 pm GMT
@Tucker This idea that the US is any sort of a net petroleum exporter is just another lie.

https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=268&t=6

In 2018 total US petroleum production was under 18 million barrels per day, total consumption north of 20 mmb/d. What does it matter if the US exports a bunch of super light fracked product the US itself can't refine if it turns around and imports it all back in again and then some.

The myths we tell ourselves, like a roaring economy that nevertheless generates a $1 trillion annual deficit, will someday come back to bite us. Denying reality is not a winning game plan for the long run.

Christophe GJ , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:00 pm GMT
I long tought that US foreign policies were mainly zionist agenda – driven, but the Venezuelan affair and the statements of Trump himself about the syrian oil (ta be "kept" (stolen)) make you think twice.

Oil seems to be at least very important even if it's not the main cause of middle east problems

So maybe it's the cause of illegal and cruel sanctions against Iran : Get rid of competitor to sell shale oil everywhere ?( think also of Norstream 2 here)

Watch out US of A. in the end there is something sometimes referred to as the oil's curse . some poor black Nigerians call oil "the shit of the devil", because it's such a problem – related asset Have you heard of it ? You get your revenues from oil easily, so you don't have to make effort by yourself. And in the end you don't keep pace with China on 5G ? Education fails ? Hmm
Becommig a primary sector extraction nation sad destiny indeed, like africans growing cafe, bananas and cacao for others. Not to mention environmental problems
What has happened to the superb Nation that send the first man on the moon and invented modern computers ?
Disapointment
Money for space or money for war following the Zio. Choose Uncle Sam !
Difficult to have both

OverCommenter , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:24 pm GMT
Everyone seems to forget how we avoided war with Syria all those years ago It was when John Kerry of all people gaffed, and said "if Assad gives up all his chemical weapons." That was in response to a reporter who asked "is there anything that can stop the war?" A intrepid Russian ambassador chimed in loud enough for the press core to hear his "OK" and history was averted. Thinking restricting the power of the President will stop brown children from dying at the hands of insane US foreign policy is a cope. "Bi-partisanship" voted to keep troops in Syria, that was only a few months ago, have you already forgotten? Dubya started the drone program, and the magical African everyone fawns over, literally doubled the remote controlled death. We are way past pretending any elected official from either side is actually against more ME war, or even that one side is worse than the other.

The problem with the supporters Trump has left is they so desperately want to believe in something bigger than themselves. They have been fed propaganda for their whole lives, and as a result can only see the world in either "this is good" or "this is bad." The problem with the opposition is that they are insane. and will say or do anything regardless of the truth. Trump could be impeached for assassinating Sulimani, yet they keep proceeding with fake and retarded nonsense. Just like keeping troops in Syria, even the most insane rabid leftoids are just fine with US imperialism, so long as it's promoting Starbucks, Marvel and homosex, just like we see with support for HK. That is foreign meddling no matter how you try to justify it, and it's not even any different messaging than the hoax "bring democracyhumanrightsfreedom TM to the poor Arabs" justification that was used in Iraq. They don't even have to come up with a new play to run, it's really quite incredible.

Just passing through , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:44 pm GMT
@OverCommenter A lot of right-wingers also see military action in the Middle East as a way for America to flex its muscles and bomb some Arabs. It also serves to justify the insane defence budget that could be used to build a wall and increase funding to ICE.

US politics has become incredibly bi-partisan, criticising Trump will get you branded a 'Leftist' in many circles. This extreme bipartisanship started with the Obama birth certificate nonsense which was being peddled by Jews like Orly Taitz, Philip J. Berg, Robert L. Shulz, Larry Klayman and Breitbart news – most likely because Obama was pursuing the JCPOA and not going hard enough on Iran – and continued with the Trump Russian agent angle.

Now many Americans cannot really think critically, they stick to their side like a fan sticks to their sports team.

Weston Waroda , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 9:11 pm GMT
The first person I ever heard say sanctions are acts of war was Ron Paul. The repulsive Madeleine Albright infamously said the deaths of 500,000 Iranian children due to US sanctions was worth it. She ought to be tried as a war criminal. Ron Paul ought to be Secretary of State.

[Feb 09, 2020] OPEC has almost 80% of World oil reserves

Notable quotes:
"... that every nation produces what oil they can produce. Production must have some relation to reserves. ..."
"... The normal R/P ratio is around 20. That doesn't mean a nation with an R/P ratio of 20 will run out of oil in 20 years. Because as their production declines, their R/P ratio will still hold at about 20 because they are producing less oil therefore their reserves will go further. So an R/P ratio of about 20 is the norm for normal size conventional fields. ..."
"... For giant and supergiant fields the R/P ratio would be greater and for smaller fields, as well as shale fields, the R/P ratio would be smaller. ..."
"... Using OPEC's reserves data for both OPEC and Non-OPEC, OPEC has an R/P of 109 while Non-OPEC has an R/P ratio of about 12. That OPEC number is absurd beyond belief. ..."
"... If we exclude the heavy oil then OPEC's share is close to the 70% I suggested. How does this square its share of the production numbers for the world. This was my original question. I would like to read what the thoughts of other posters are on this as well. ..."
Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

What is the explanation that Non-OPEC produces more than OPEC, but OPEC has 70% of world reserves?

Although this might have been the case in the early history of oil production, I would think that this should not be the case near the peak. If I recall correctly, Campbell thought that OPEC's stated reserves are actually the estimated values produced by the government for each OPEC country?


Ron Patterson 12/12/2019 at 11:08 pm

No, no, no, OPEC has almost 80% of World oil reserves: OPEC Share of World Oil Reserves, 2018

Well, 79.4% to be exact Some people really believe that unbelievable crap. Well hell, there are still people who believe the earth is flat and that the sun revolves around the earth. So why should we be surprised? Some people will believe anything.

I would like to think that most people on this list know that OPEC quoted reserves is pure bullshit.

Hey, we have a president who lies every time he tweets. And sometimes he tweets 200 times a day. And perhaps 45% of the nation believes him. The capacity of humans to believe the absurd is unbounded.

Anyway if IEA and EIA projections are made on the basis of OPEC claimed reserves, we have a serious problem.

Ron Patterson 12/13/2019 at 2:15 pm
Well, I have always stated, on this blog as well as The Oil Drum, that every nation produces what oil they can produce. Production must have some relation to reserves.

The normal R/P ratio is around 20. That doesn't mean a nation with an R/P ratio of 20 will run out of oil in 20 years. Because as their production declines, their R/P ratio will still hold at about 20 because they are producing less oil therefore their reserves will go further. So an R/P ratio of about 20 is the norm for normal size conventional fields.

For giant and supergiant fields the R/P ratio would be greater and for smaller fields, as well as shale fields, the R/P ratio would be smaller.

If a giant or supergiant field is nearing the end of its life, but infill drilling, creaming the top of the reservoir, this will throw a monkey wrench into their R/P ratio. While in its prime, the field may have had an R/P ration of 40 or even greater, its R/P ratio while being creamed will be much smaller, less than 20.

Using OPEC's reserves data for both OPEC and Non-OPEC, OPEC has an R/P of 109 while Non-OPEC has an R/P ratio of about 12. That OPEC number is absurd beyond belief.

Seppo Korpela 12/15/2019 at 5:55 pm
Ron,

According to Hubbert methodology, at the peak production the number of years to exhaust the reserve is N = 2/a in which "a" is the intrinsic growth rate

dQ/dt=a Q (1-Q/Q_0)

From Laherrere's reports for world peak, this is between 0.04 and 0.05. This means that the R/P ratio is between 40 and 50 at the peak. Thus if we say that 1/2 of the reserves are left at the peak and we take Laherre's URR = 2500, this gives R/P=1250/35=36 years. These are ball park figures, but suggest that R/P ~ 20 is low. These numbers are for the entire world and for example for North Sea at its peak Hubbert's analysis gave a = 0.12, so R/P=2/0.12=16.6, and this illustrates the fact that smaller fields are closer to your number R/P=20.

If we exclude the heavy oil then OPEC's share is close to the 70% I suggested. How does this square its share of the production numbers for the world. This was my original question. I would like to read what the thoughts of other posters are on this as well.

[Feb 09, 2020] The Oil War by Jean-Pierre Séréni

Notable quotes:
"... The Iraq war was about oil. Recently declassified US government documents confirm this ( 1 ), however much US president George W Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and their ally, the British prime minister Tony Blair, denied it at the time. ..."
Mar 06, 2013 | www.zcommunications.org

Source: Le Monde Diplomatique

The Iraq war was about oil. Recently declassified US government documents confirm this ( 1 ), however much US president George W Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and their ally, the British prime minister Tony Blair, denied it at the time.

When Bush moved into the White House in January 2001, he faced the familiar problem of the imbalance between oil supply and demand. Supply was unable to keep up with demand, which was increasing rapidly because of the growth of emerging economies such as China and India. The only possible solution lay in the Gulf, where the giant oil-producing countries of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, and the lesser producing states of Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, commanded 60% of the world's reserves.

For financial or political reasons, production growth was slow. In Saudi Arabia, the ultra-rich ruling families of the Al-Saud, the Al-Sabah and the Zayed Al-Nayan were content with a comfortable level of income, given their small populations, and preferred to leave their oil underground. Iran and Iraq hold around 25% of the world's hydrocarbon reserves and could have filled the gap, but were subject to sanctions -- imposed solely by the US on Iran, internationally on Iraq -- that deprived them of essential oil equipment and services. Washington saw them as rogue states and was unwilling to end the sanctions.

How could the US get more oil from the Gulf without endangering its supremacy in the region? Influential US neoconservatives, led by Paul Wolfowitz, who had gone over to uninhibited imperialism after the fall of the Soviet Union, thought they had found a solution. They had never understood George Bush senior's decision not to overthrow Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf war in 1991. An open letter to President Bill Clinton, inspired by the Statement of Principles of the Project for the New American Century, a non-profit organisation founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, had called for a regime change in Iraq as early as 1998: Saddam must be ousted and big US oil companies must gain access to Iraq. Several signatories to the Statement of Principles became members of the new Republican administration in 2001.

In 2002, one of them, Douglas Feith, a lawyer who was undersecretary of defense to Rumsfeld, supervised the work of experts planning the future of Iraq's oil industry. His first decision was to entrust its management after the expected US victory to Kellog, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of US oil giant Halliburton, of which Cheney had been chairman and CEO. Feith's plan, formulated at the start of 2003, was to keep Iraq's oil production at its current level of 2,840 mbpd (million barrels per day), to avoid a collapse that would cause chaos in the world market.

Privatising oil

Experts were divided on the privatisation of the Iraqi oil industry. The Iraqi government had excluded foreign companies and successfully managed the sector itself since 1972. By 2003, despite wars with Iran (1980-88) and in Kuwait (1990-91) and more than 15 years of sanctions, Iraq had managed to equal the record production levels achieved in 1979-1980.

The experts had a choice -- bring back the concession regime that had operated before nationalisation in 1972, or sell shares in the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) on the Russian model, issuing transferrable vouchers to the Iraqi population. In Russia, this approach had very quickly led to the oil sector falling into the hands of a few super-rich oligarchs.

Bush approved the plan drawn up by the Pentagon and State Department in January 2003. The much-decorated retired lieutenant general Jay Gardner, was appointed director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the military administration set up to govern post-Saddam Iraq. Out of his depth, he stuck to short-term measures and avoided choosing between the options put forward by his technical advisers.

Reassuring the oil giants

The international oil companies were not idle. Lee Raymond, CEO of America's biggest oil company ExxonMobil, was an old friend of Dick Cheney. But where the politicians were daring, he was cautious. The project was a tempting opportunity to replenish the company's reserves, which had been stagnant for several years, but Raymond had doubts: would Bush really be able to assure conditions that would allow the company to operate safely in Iraq? Nobody at ExxonMobil was willing to die for oil. (Its well-paid engineers do not dream of life in a blockhouse in Iraq.) The company would also have to be sure of its legal position: what would contracts signed by a de facto authority be worth when it would be investing billions of dollars that would take years to recover?

In the UK, BP was anxious to secure its own share of the spoils. As early as 2002 the company had confided in the UK Department of Trade and Industry its fears that the US might give away too much to French, Russian and Chinese oil companies in return for their governments agreeing not to use their veto at the UN Security Council ( 2 ). In February 2003 those fears were removed: France's president Jacques Chirac vetoed a resolution put forward by the US, and the third Iraq war began without UN backing. There was no longer any question of respecting the agreements Saddam had signed with Total and other companies (which had never been put into practice because of sanctions).

To reassure the British and US oil giants, the US government appointed to the management team Gary Vogler of ExxonMobil and Philip J Carrol of Shell. They were replaced in October 2003 by Rob McKee of ConocoPhilips and Terry Adams of BP. The idea was to counter the dominance of the Pentagon, and the influential neocon approach (which faced opposition from within the administration). The neocon ideologues, still on the scene, had bizarre ideas: they wanted to build a pipeline to transport Iraq's crude oil to Israel, dismantle OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and even use "liberated" Iraq as a guinea pig for a new oil business model to be applied to all of the Middle East. The engineers and businessmen, whose priorities were profits and results, were more down-to-earth.

In any event, the invasion had a devastating impact on Iraq's oil production, less because of the bombing by the US air force than because of the widespread looting of government agencies, schools, universities, archives, libraries, banks, hospitals, museums and state-owned enterprises. Drilling rigs were dismantled for the copper parts they were believed to contain. The looting continued from March to May 2003. Only a third of the damage to the oil industry was caused during the invasion; the rest happened after the fighting was over, despite the presence of the RIO Task Force and the US Corps of Engineers with its 500 contractors, specially prepared and trained to protect oil installations. Saddam's supporters were prevented from blowing up the oil wells by the speed of the invasion, but the saboteurs set to work in June 2003.

Iraq's one real asset

The only buildings protected were the gigantic oil ministry, where 15,000 civil servants managed 22 subsidiaries of the Iraq National Oil Company. The State Oil Marketing Organisation and the infrastructure were abandoned. The occupiers regarded the oil under the ground as Iraq's one real asset. They were not interested in installations or personnel. The oil ministry was only saved at the last minute because it housed geological and seismic data on Iraq's 80 known deposits, estimated to contain 115bn barrels of crude oil. The rest could always be replaced with more modern US-made equipment and the knowhow of the international oil companies, made indispensible by the sabotage.

Thamir Abbas Ghadban, director-general of planning at the oil ministry, turned up at the office three days after the invasion was over, and, in the absence of a minister for oil (since Iraq had no government), was appointed second in command under Micheal Mobbs, a neocon who enjoyed the confidence of the Pentagon. Paul Bremer, the US proconsul who headed Iraq's provisional government from May 2003 to June 2004, presided over the worst 12 months in the oil sector in 70 years. Production fell by 1 mbpd -- more than $13bn of lost income.

The oil installations, watched over by 3,500 underequipped guards, suffered 140 sabotage attacks between May 2003 and September 2004, estimated to have caused $7bn of damage. "There was widespread looting," said Ghadban. "Equipment was stolen and in most cases the buildings were set on fire." The Daura refinery, near Baghdad, only received oil intermittently, because of damage to the pipeline network. "We had to let all the oil in the damaged sections of the pipeline burn before we could repair them." Yet the refinery continued to operate, no mean achievement considering that the workers were no longer being paid.

The senior management of the national oil company also suffered. Until 1952 almost all senior managers of the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) were foreigners, who occupied villas in gated and guarded compounds while the local workforce lived in shantytowns. In 1952 tension between Iraq and Muhammad Mossadegh's Iran led the IPC to review its relations with Baghdad, and a clause of the new treaty concerned the training of Iraqi managers. By 1972, 75% of the thousand skilled jobs were filled by Iraqis, which helped to ensure the success of the IPC's nationalisation. The new Iraq National Oil Company gained control of the oilfields and production reached unprecedented levels.

Purge of the Ba'ath

After the invasion, the US purged Ba'athist elements from INOC's management. Simply belonging to the Ba'ath, Iraq's single political party, which had been in power since 1968, was grounds for dismissal, compulsory retirement or worse. Seventeen of INOC's 24 directors were forced out, along with several hundred engineers, who had kept production high through wars and foreign sanctions. The founding fathers of INOC were ousted by the Deba'athification Commission, led by former exiles including Iraq's prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, who replaced them with his own supporters, as incompetent as they were partisan.

Rob McKee, who succeeded Philip J Carrol as oil adviser to the US proconsul, observed in autumn 2003: "The people themselves are patently unqualified and are apparently being placed in the ministry for religious, political or personal reasons... the people who nursed the industry through Saddam's years and who brought it back to life after the liberation, as well as many trained professionals, are all systematically being pushed to the sidelines" ( 3 ).

This purge opened the door to advisers, mostly from the US, who bombarded the oil ministry with notes, circulars and reports directly inspired by the practices of the international oil industry, without much concern for their applicability to Iraq.

The drafting of Iraq's new constitution and an oil law provided an opportunity to change the rules. Washington had decided in advance to do away with the centralised state, partly because of its crimes against the Kurds under Saddam and partly because centralisation favours totalitarianism. The new federal, or even confederal, regime was decentralised to the point of being de-structured. A two-thirds majority in one of the three provinces allows opposition to veto central government decisions.

Baghdad-Irbil rivalry

Only Kurdistan had the means and the motivation to do so. Where oil was concerned, power was effectively divided between Baghdad and Irbil, seat of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which imposed its own interpretation of the constitution: deposits already being exploited would remain under federal government control, but new licenses would be granted by the provincial governments. A fierce dispute arose between the two capitals, partly because the KRG granted licenses to foreign oil companies under far more favourable conditions than those offered by Baghdad.

The quarrel related to the production sharing agreements. The usual practice is for foreign companies that provide financial backing to get a share of the oil produced, which can be very significant in the first few years. This was the formula US politicians and oil companies wanted to impose. They were unable to do so.

Iraq's parliament, so often criticised in other matters, opposed this system; it was supported by public opinion, which had not forgotten the former IPC. Tariq Shafiq, founding father of the INOC, explained to the US Congress the technical reasons for the refusal ( 4 ). Iraq's oil deposits were known and mapped out. There was therefore little risk to foreign companies: there would be no prospecting costs and exploitation costs would be among the lowest in the world. From 2008 onwards, Baghdad started offering major oil companies far less attractive contracts -- $2/barrel for the bigger oilfields, and no rights to the deposits.

ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Total, and Russian, Chinese, Angolan, Pakistani and Turkish oil companies nevertheless rushed to accept, hoping that things would turn to their advantage. Newsweek (24 May 2010) claimed Iraq had the potential to become "the next Saudi Arabia." But although production is up (over 3 mbpd in 2012), the oil companies are irritated by the conditions imposed on them: investment costs are high, profits are mediocre and the oil still underground is not counted as part of their reserves, which affects their share price.

ExxonMobil and Total disregarded the federal government edict that threatened to strip rights from oil companies that signed production-sharing agreements relating to oilfields in Kurdistan. Worse, ExxonMobil sold its services contract relating to Iraq's largest oilfield, West Qurna, where it had been due to invest $50bn and double the country's current production. Baghdad is now under pressure: if it continues to refuse the conditions requested by the foreign oil companies, it will lose out to Irbil, even if Kurdistan's deposits are only a third of the size of those in the south. Meanwhile, Turkey has done nothing to improve its relations with Iraq by offering to build a direct pipeline from Kurdistan to the Mediterranean. Without the war, would the oil companies have been able to make the Iraqis and Kurds compete? One thing is certain: the US is far from achieving its goals in the oil sector, and in this sense the war was a failure.

Alan Greenspan, who as chairman of the US Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006 was well placed to understand the importance of oil, came up with the best summary of the conflict: "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil" ( 5 ).

[Feb 09, 2020] Myths, Lies and Oil Wars (9783981326369) F. William Engdahl Books

Feb 09, 2020 | www.amazon.com

J. Montz , October 29, 2012

Engdahl is Concise, Relevant, & Thought-provoking

"Myths, Lies, and Oil Wars" by William F. Engdahl is a must read for anyone struggling to make sense of U.S. foreign policy. Why are U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why did NATO take out Gaddafi? Why are we going after Iran and Syria? Is there a grand strategy? Was the "Arab Spring" uprisings really grassroots revolutions or just a second round of color revolutions?

"Control the food and you control the people. Control the oil and you control the nations" is a statement that has been attributed to Henry Kissinger. The premise of the book is summed up by the latter part of Kissinger's statement, the control of oil or more generally the control of energy.

Engdahl maintains that the geopolitical events we have been witnessing is part of the Pentagon's "Full Spectrum Dominance" plan. A cornerstone of the plan is the control of oil at the source. Much of the world's proven oilfields are in the Middle East. For the next two decades the Mideast oilfields is expected to provide Asia with most of its oil.

Engdahl begins laying out the history of conflicts over oil and provides insightful revelations into conflicts that benefited the Oil majors by reducing the world supply of oil. Case in point the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980's. The oil exports from these two nations was drastically reduced during wartime leading to higher prices.

Another example Engdahl lists is the fact that David Rockefeller lobbied the Carter Administration to allow the Shah of Iran into the U.S. for medical treatment knowing that it would cause a crisis with the Ayatollah Khomeini's Iranian government and how Rockefeller's Bank was able to benefit after the U.S. froze the assets of Iran.

Other topics covered include:

The "Peak Oil Fraud" and the pseudo-science of its creator King Hubbert.

The fact that in Russia the Abiotic theory of oil formation is accepted as the leading theory for the last fifty years resulting in Russian Geoligist finding oil in places that western dogma says it shouldn't be.

The rapid rise of China is a source of much concern in Washington. The economic rise of China must be contained and in no way can Russia and China be allowed to join forces. Many tacticians have emphasized the importance of not allowing the rise of a unified Eurasian power. A Eurasian power would be in a position to challenge the dominance of the Anglo-American Empire.

According to the info the Engdahl provides China's weakness is its lack of oil. Engdahl illustrates how the Pentagon has been encircling Russia and China and the events we are seeing is Washington's attempt to knock China out of Africa where China was making steady inroads signing economic alliances with African nations that the Anglo-Americans were exploiting.

Engdahl makes the case that the Iraq war was about control of the oil at the source.

The invasion of Afghanistan was about a controlling Caspian sea oil and gas.

Engdahl offers an explanation for NATO alliances with the former Soviet States of Ukraine and Georgia.

What really was behind the Russian invasion of Georgia? The consequences for Russia.

The establishment of joint ventures between U.S. oil companies and former state run oil enterprises in Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan.

Why did the U.S. move Afghani Mujahideen into Chechnya and start a proxy war along a vital Russian pipeline?

Engdahl provides the information needed to connect the "dots" of seemingly unrelated conflicts to form a vivid picture of the "New World Order" being assembled in the 21st Century.

I highly recommend this book along with all of Engdahl's other works. Engdahl wrote two other books that are especially pertinent to "Myths, Lies, and Oil Wars"

The first is "A Century of War, Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order" which I consider as a prequel to "Myths, Lies, and Oil Wars"

The second is "Full Spectrum Dominance, Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order" which describes the encircling of Russia, the color revolutions, and much more.

These three books together will surely enlighten the lay person to the machinations of the U.S. Empire. Another point I should mention is, Engdahl's works are concise and thoughtful hitting on the important points while remaining entertaining and not overwhelming the reader with a thousand plus page tome.

A Century of War: : Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order
Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order

[Feb 09, 2020] The Real Reason for the Iraq War

Notable quotes:
"... Like most lefty journalists, I assumed that George Bush and Tony Blair invaded Iraq to buy up its oil fields, cheap and at gun-point, and cart off the oil. We thought we knew the neo-cons true casus belli ..."
"... But the truth in the Options for Iraqi Oil Industry was worse than "Blood for Oil". Much, much worse. The key was in the flow chart on page 15, Iraq Oil Regime Timeline & Scenario Analysis: "...A single state-owned company ...enhances a government's relationship with OPEC." ..."
Feb 09, 2020 | www.vice.com

Because it was marked "confidential" on each page, the oil industry stooge couldn't believe the US State Department had given me a complete copy of their secret plans for the oil fields of Iraq.

Actually, the State Department had done no such thing. But my line of bullshit had been so well-practiced and the set-up on my mark had so thoroughly established my fake identity, that I almost began to believe my own lies.

I closed in. I said I wanted to make sure she and I were working from the same State Department draft. Could she tell me the official name, date and number of pages? She did.

Bingo! I'd just beaten the Military-Petroleum Complex in a lying contest, so I had a right to be chuffed.

After phoning numbers from California to Kazakhstan to trick my mark, my next calls were to the State Department and Pentagon. Now that I had the specs on the scheme for Iraq's oil -- that State and Defense Department swore, in writing, did not exist -- I told them I'd appreciate their handing over a copy (no expurgations, please) or there would be a very embarrassing story on BBC Newsnight .

Within days, our chief of investigations, Ms Badpenny, delivered to my shack in the woods outside New York a 323-page, three-volume programme for Iraq's oil crafted by George Bush's State Department and petroleum insiders meeting secretly in Houston, Texas.

I cracked open the pile of paper -- and I was blown away.

Like most lefty journalists, I assumed that George Bush and Tony Blair invaded Iraq to buy up its oil fields, cheap and at gun-point, and cart off the oil. We thought we knew the neo-cons true casus belli : Blood for oil.

But the truth in the Options for Iraqi Oil Industry was worse than "Blood for Oil". Much, much worse. The key was in the flow chart on page 15, Iraq Oil Regime Timeline & Scenario Analysis: "...A single state-owned company ...enhances a government's relationship with OPEC."

[Jan 12, 2020] Luongo Fears "An Abyss Of Losses" As Iraq Becomes MidEast Battleground

Highly recommended!
Jan 12, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

The future of the U.S.'s involvement in the Middle East is in Iraq. The exchange of hostilities between the U.S. and Iran occurred wholly on Iraqi soil and it has become the site on which that war will continue.

Israel continues to up the ante on Iran, following President Trump's lead by bombing Shia militias stationed near the Al Bukumai border crossing between Syria and Iraq.

The U.S. and Israel are determined this border crossing remains closed and have demonstrated just how far they are willing to go to prevent the free flow of goods and people across this border.

The regional allies of Iran are to be kept weak, divided and constantly under harassment.

Iraq is the battleground because the U.S. lost in Syria. Despite the presence of U.S. troops squatting on Syrian oil fields in Deir Ezzor province or the troops sitting in the desert protecting the Syrian border with Jordan, the Russians, Hezbollah and the Iranian Quds forces continue to reclaim territory previously lost to the Syrian government.

Now with Turkey redeploying its pet Salafist head-choppers from Idlib to Libya to fight General Haftar's forces there to legitimize its claim to eastern Mediterannean gas deposits, the restoration of Syria's territorial integrity west of the Euphrates River is nearly complete.

The defenders of Syria can soon transition into the rebuilders thereof, if allowed. And they didn't do this alone, they had a silent partner in China the entire time.

And, if I look at this situation honestly, it was China stepping out from behind the shadows into the light that is your inciting incident for this chapter in Iraq's story.

China moving in to sign a $10.1 billion deal with the Iraqi government to begin the reconstruction of its ruined oil and gas industry in exchange for oil is of vital importance.

It doubles China's investment in Iraq while denying the U.S. that money and influence.

This happened after a massive $53 billion deal between Exxon-Mobil and Petrochina was put on hold after the incident involving Iran shooting down a U.S. Global Hawk drone in June.

With the U.S balking over the Exxon/Petrochina big deal, Iraqi Prime Minster Adel Abdul Mahdi signed the new one with China in October. Mahdi brought up the circumstances surrounding that in Iraqi parliaments during the session in which it passed the resolution recommending removal of all foreign forces from Iraq.

Did Trump openly threaten Mahdi over this deal as I covered in my podcast on this? Did the U.S. gin up protests in Baghdad, amplifying unrest over growing Iranian influence in the country?

And, if not, were these threats simply implied or carried by a minion (Pompeo, Esper, a diplomat)? Because the U.S.'s history of regime change operations is well documented. Well understood color revolution tactics used successfully in places like Ukraine , where snipers were deployed to shoot protesters and police alike to foment violence between them at the opportune time were on display in Baghdad.

Mahdi openly accused Trump of threatening him, but that sounds more like Mahdi using the current impeachment script to invoke the sinister side of Trump and sell his case.

It's not that I don't think Trump capable of that kind of threat, I just don't think he's stupid enough to voice it on an open call. Donald Trump is capable of many impulsive things, openly threatening to remove an elected Prime Minister on a recorded line is not one of them.

Mahdi has been under the U.S.'s fire since he came to power in late 2018. He was the man who refused Trump during Trump's impromptu Christmas visit to Iraq in 2018 , refusing to be summoned to a clandestine meeting at the U.S. embassy rather than Trump visit him as a head of state, an equal.

He was the man who declared the Iraqi air space closed after Israeli air attacks on Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) positions in September.

And he's the person, at the same time, being asked by Trump to act as a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran in peace talks for Yemen.

So, the more we look at this situation the more it is clear that Abdul Madhi, the first Iraqi prime minister since the 2003 U.S. invasion push for more Iraqi sovereignty, is emerging as the pivotal figure in what led up to the attack on General Soleimani and what comes after Iran's subsequent retaliation.

It's clear that Trump doesn't want to fight a war with Iran in Iran. He wants them to acquiesce to his unreasonable demands and begin negotiating a new nuclear deal which definitively stops the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon, and as P atrick Henningsen at 21st Century Wire thinks ,

Trump now wants a new deal which features a prohibition on Iran's medium range missiles , and after events this week, it's obvious why. Wednesday's missile strike by Iran demonstrates that the US can no longer operate in the region so long as Iran has the ability to extend its own deterrence envelope westwards to Syria, Israel, and southwards to the Arabian Peninsula, and that includes all US military installations located within that radius.

Iraq doesn't want to be that battlefield. And Iran sent the message with those two missile strikes that the U.S. presence in Iraq is unsustainable and that any thought of retreating to the autonomous Kurdish region around the air base at Erbil is also a non-starter.

The big question, after this attack, is whether U.S. air defenses around the Ain al Assad airbase west of Ramadi were active or not. If they were then Trump's standing down after the air strikes signals what Patrick suggests, a new Middle East in the making.

If they were not turned on then the next question is why? To allow Iran to save face after Trump screwed up murdering Soleimani?

I'm not capable of believing such Q-tard drivel at this point. It's far more likely that the spectre of Russian electronics warfare and radar evasion is lurking in the subtext of this story and the U.S. truly now finds itself after a second example of Iranian missile technology in a nascent 360 degree war in the region.

It means that Iran's threats against the cities of Haifa and Dubai were real.

In short, it means the future of the U.S. presence in Iraq now measures in months not years.

Because both China and Russia stand to gain ground with a newly-united Shi'ite Iraqi population. Mahdi is now courting Russia to sell him S-300 missile defense systems to allow him to enforce his demands about Iraqi airspace.

Moqtada al-Sadr is mobilizing his Madhi Army to oust the U.S. from Iraq. Iraq is key to the U.S. presence in the region. Without Iraq the U.S. position in Syria is unsustainable.

If the U.S. tries to retreat to Kurdish territory and push again for Masoud Barzani and his Peshmerga forces to declare independence Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will go ballistic.

And you can expect him to make good on his threat to close the Incerlik airbase, another critical logistical juncture for U.S. force projection in the region.

But it all starts with Mahdi's and Iraq's moves in the coming weeks. But, with Trump rightly backing down from escalating things further and not following through on his outlandish threats against Iran, it may be we're nearing the end of this intractable standoff.

Back in June I told you that Iran had the ability to fight asymmetrically against the U.S., not through direct military confrontation but through the after-effects of a brief, yet violent period of war in which all U.S., Israeli and Arab assets in the Middle East come under fire from all directions.

It sent this same message then that by attacking oil tankers it could make the transport of oil untenable and not insurable. We got a taste of it back then and Trump, then, backed down.

And the resultant upheaval in the financial markets creating an abyss of losses, cross-asset defaults, bank failures and government collapses.

Trump has no real option now but to negotiate while Iraq puts domestic pressure on him to leave and Russia/China come in to provide critical economic and military support to assist Mahdi rally his country back towards some semblance of sovereignty

* * *

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MalteseFalcon , 3 minutes ago link

OK kids,

Play time is over.

China needs Iraqi oil to build the BRI.

Last one into Africom is a rotten egg!!!!

daveeemc2 , 14 minutes ago link

This is the most delicious of irony

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_cost_of_the_Iraq_War

The american imperial style of intervention is dead.

China debt trap model of belt and road is the path forward.

They will win hearts and minds, and not a single shot fired.

USA gets debt from paying war machine and killed and maimed soldiers whose personal psychiatry will haunt them for an entire lifetime.

In the end, Americans get nothing but debt and risk their own soverignty as a population ages and infrastructure crumbles....kinda like now.

MalteseFalcon , 1 minute ago link

The last 30 years of American foreign policy has been an unmitigated disaster.

yerfej , 26 minutes ago link

How about "what is the goal?" There is none of course. The assholes in the Washington/MIC just need war to keep them relevant. What if the US were to closed down all those wars and foreign bases? THEN the taxpayer could demand some accounting for the trillions that are wasted on complete CRAP. There are too many old leftovers from the cold war who seem to think there is benefit to fighting wars in shithole places just because those wars are the only ones going on right now. The stupidity of the ****** in the US military/MIC/Washington is beyond belief. JUST LEAVE you ******* idiots.

Rusticus2.0 , 22 minutes ago link

Your comment should have been directed at Trump, the commander in chief.

I guess that's still a bridge too far, but sooner than later you're going to have to cross it.

BobEore , 29 minutes ago link

Excellent Smithers, excellent:

Sometimes, in treading thru the opaque, sandstorm o ******** swept wastes of the ' desert of the really real '...

one must rely upon a marking... some kind of guidepost, however tenuous, to show you to be still... on the trail, not lost in the vast haunted reaches of post-reality. And you know, Tommy is that sort of guide; the sort of guy who you take to the fairgrounds, set him up with the 'THROW THE BALL THRU THE HOOP... GUARANTEED PRIZE TO SCOOP' kiosk...

and he misses every time. Just by watching Tom run through his paces here... zeroing in on the exact WRONG interpretation of events ... every dawg gone time... one resets their compass to tru course and relaxes into the flow agin! Thanks Tom! Let's break down ... the Schlitzy shopping list of sloppy errors:

Israel continues to up the ante on Iran, f ollowing President Trump's lead by bombing Shia militias stationed near the Al Bukumai border crossing between Syria and Iraq. Urusalem.. and its pathetically obedient dogsbody USSA ... are busy setting up RIMFISTAN Tom.. you really need to start expanding your reading list; On both sides of that border you mention .. they will be running - and guarding - pipeline running to the mothership. Shia miitias and that project just don't mix. Nobody gives a frying fluck bout your imaginary 'land bridge to the Med'... except you and the gomers. And you and they aren't ANYWHERES near to here.

  • Abdul Madhi, the first Iraqi prime minister since the 2003 U.S. invasion push for more Iraqi sovereignty, is emerging as the pivotal figure in what led up to the attack on General Soleimani and what comes after Iran's subsequent retaliation.
  • Ok... this is getting completely embarrassing. The man is a 'caretaker' Tom... that's similar to a 'janitor' - he's on the way out. If you really think thats' being pivotal... I'm gonna suggest that you've 'pivoted' on one of your goats too many times.

Look, Tom... I did sincerely undertake to hold your arm, and guide you through this to a happier place. But you... are underwater my man. And that's quite an accomplishment, since we be traveling through the deserts of the really real. You've enumerated a list of things which has helped me to understand just how completely distorted is the picture of the situation here in mudded east.. is... in the minds of the myriad victims of your alt-media madness. And I thank you for that. But its time we part company.

These whirring klaidescope glasses I put on, in order to help me see how you see things, have given me a bit of a headache. Time to return to seeing the world... as it really works!

simpson seers , 14 minutes ago link

says the yankee chicken ******......

Fireman , 32 minutes ago link

Like Ukraine, everything the anglozionazi empire of **** smear$...turns to ****.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVMbCTWRcSs

https://theduran.com/ukranian-whistleblower-reveals-mh-17-tragedy-was-orchestrated-by-poroshenko-and-british-secret-service/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=wR1NFI6TBH0

BGO , 39 minutes ago link

The whole *target and destroy* Iran (and Iraq) clusterfuck has always been about creating new profit scenarios, profit theaters, for the MIC.

If the US govt was suddenly forced to stop making and selling **** designed to kill people... if the govt were forced to stopping selling **** to other people so they can kill people... if the govt were forced to stop stockpiling **** designed to kill people just so other people would stop building and stockpiling **** designed to kill people... first the US then the world would collapse... everyone would finally see... the US is a nation of people that allows itself to be propped up by the worst sort of people... an infinitesimally small group of gangsters who legally make insane amounts of money... by creating in perpetuity... forever new scenarios that allow them to kill other people.

Jesus ******* Christ ZeroHedge software ******* sucks.

Fireman , 40 minutes ago link

Understanding why Agent Orange is a meat puppet.

The following has been known to cure T.D.S.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/NJF06yjvdErM/

Wantoknow , 44 minutes ago link

Why has Trump no real option? What do you believe are the limits of Trump's options that assure he must negotiate? Perhaps all out war is not yet possible politically in the US, but public sentiment has been manipulated before. Why not now?

One must not yet reject the idea that the road to Moscow and Beijing does not run through Iran. Throwing the US out of the Middle East would be a grievous failure for the deep state which has demonstrated itself to be absolutely ruthless. It is hard to believe the US will leave without a much more serious war forcing the issue.

So far Trump has appeared artless and that may continue but that artlessness may well bring a day when Trump will not back down.

Fireman , 39 minutes ago link

Why has Trump no real option?

Ask the towel girls at Maralago and Jeffrey Pedovore.

Rusticus2.0 , 49 minutes ago link

The motivation behind Trump pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action wasn't because, after careful analytical study of the plan, he decided it was a bad deal. It was because Israel demanded it as it didn't fit into their best interests and, as with the refreezing of relationships with Cuba, it was a easier way to undo Obama policy rather than tackling Obamacare. Hardly sound judgement.

The war will continue in Iraq as the Shia majority mobilize against an occupying force that has been asked to leave, but refuse. What will quickly become apparent is that this war is about to become far more multifaceted with Iraqi and Iranian proxies targeting American interests across numerous fronts.

Trump is the head of a business empire; Downsizing is not a strategy that he's ever employed; His business history is a case study in go big or go bust.

not-me---it-was-the-dog , 32 minutes ago link

so it will work like this....

trump's zionist overlords have demanded he destroy iran.

as a simple lackey, he agreed, but he does need political cover to do so.

thus the equating of any attack or threat of attack by any group of any political persuasion as originating from iran.

any resistance by the shia in iraq will be considered as being directed from iran, thus an attack on iran is warranted.

any resistance by the currect governement of iraq will be considered as being directed from iran, thus an attack on iran is warranted.

any resistance by the sunni in iraq will be considered subversion by iran, or a false flag by iran, thus an attack on iran is warranted.

trump's refusal to follow the SOFA agreement, and heed the call of the democratic government we claim to have gone in to install, is specifically designed to lead to more violence, which in turn can be blamed on iran's "malign" influence, which gives the entity lackeys cover to spread more democracy.

MIGA!

Brazen Heist II , 55 minutes ago link

America is a nation of imbeciles. They have meddled in Iraq since the 1980s and still can't subdue the place to their content.

Dey hate us for our freedumbs!

Ghost who Walks , 54 minutes ago link

I'm more positive that Iraq can resolve its issues without starting a Global War.

The information shared by the Iraqi Prime Minister goes part way to awakening the population as to what is happening and why.

Once more information starts to leak out (and it will from those individuals who want to avoid extinction) the broad mass of the global population can take action to protect themselves from the psychopaths.

new game , 1 hour ago link

This is what empires in decline do. Hubris...

meanwhile China rises with Strategic economic investment.

And the econ hitmen aren't done yet...

moar war...

Arising , 1 hour ago link

China moving in to sign a $10.1 billion deal with the Iraqi government to begin the reconstruction of its ruined oil and gas industry in exchange for oil is of vital importance.

Come on Tom, you should know better than that: the U.S will destroy any agreements between China and the people of Iraq.

The oil will continue to be stolen and sent to Occupied Palestine to administer and the people of Iraq will be in constant revolt, protest mode and subjugation- but they will never know they are being manipulated by the thieving zionists in D.C and Tel aviv.

Ms No , 1 hour ago link

Agreed. It will take nothing short of a miracle to stop this. Time isnt on their side though so they better get on it. They will do something big to get it going.

RoyalDraco , 14 minutes ago link

This isn't "humanity." Few people are psychopathic killers. It is being run by a small cliche of Satanists who are well on their way to enslaving humanity in a dystopia even George Orwell could not imagine. They control most of the levers of power and influence and have done so for centuries.

Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

- Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring's testimony before the Nuremberg tribunal on crimes against humanity

[Jan 10, 2020] The Saker interviews Michael Hudson

Highly recommended!
Looks like Iran is Catch22 for the USA: it can destroy it, but only at the cost of losing empire and dollar hegemony...
Notable quotes:
"... The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire. In effect, foreign countries are beginning to respond to the United States what the ten tribes of Israel said when they withdrew from the southern kingdom of Judah, whose king Rehoboam refused to lighten his demands (1 Kings 12). They echoed the cry of Sheba son of Bikri a generation earlier: "Look after your own house, O David!" The message is: What do other countries have to gain by remaining in the US unipolar neoliberalized world, as compared to using their own wealth to build up their own economies? It's an age-old problem. ..."
"... The dollar will still play a role in US trade and investment, but it will be as just another currency, held at arms length until it finally gives up its domineering attempt to strip other countries' wealth for itself. However, its demise may not be a pretty sight. ..."
"... Conflict in the ME has traditionally almost always been about oil [and of course Israel]. This situation is different. It is only partially about oil and Israel, but OVERWHHEMINGLY it is about the BRI. ..."
"... The salient factor as I see it is the Oil for Technology initiative that Iraq signed with China shortly before it slid into this current mess. ..."
"... This was a mechanism whereby China would buy Iraq oil and these funds would be used directly to fund infrastructure and self-sufficiency initiatives and technologies that would help to drag Iraq out of the complete disaster that the US war had created in this country. A key part of this would be that China would also make extra loans available at the same time to speed up this development. ..."
"... "Iraq's Finance Ministry that the country had started exporting 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to China in October as part of the 20-year oil-for-infrastructure deal agreed between the two countries." ..."
"... "For Iraq and Iran, China's plans are particularly far-reaching, OilPrice.com has been told by a senior oil industry figure who works closely with Iran's Petroleum Ministry and Iraq's Oil Ministry. China will begin with the oil and gas sector and work outwards from that central point. In addition to being granted huge reductions on buying Iranian oil and gas, China is to be given the opportunity to build factories in both Iran and Iraq – and build-out infrastructure, such as railways – overseen by its own management staff from Chinese companies. These are to have the same operational structure and assembly lines as those in China, so that they fit seamlessly into various Chinese companies' assembly lines' process for whatever product a particular company is manufacturing, whilst also being able to use the still-cheap labour available in both Iraq and Iraq." ..."
"... Hudson is so good. He's massively superior to most so called military analysts and alternative bloggers on the net. He can clearly see the over arching picture and how the military is used to protect and project it. The idea that the US is going to leave the middle east until they are forced to is so blind as to be ridiculous. ..."
"... I'd never thought of that "stationary aircraft carrier" comparison between Israel and the British, very apt. ..."
"... Trump et al assassinated someone who was on a diplomatic mission. This action was so far removed from acceptable behavior that it must have been considered to be "by any means and at all costs". ..."
"... This article, published by Strategic Culture, features a translation of Mahdi's speech to the Iraqi parliament in which he states that Trump threatened him with assassination and the US admitted to killing hundreds of demonstrators using Navy SEAL snipers. ..."
"... This description provided by Mr Hudson is no Moore than the financial basis behind the Cebrowski doctrine instituted on 9/11. https://www.voltairenet.org/article ..."
"... "The leading country breaking up US hegemony obviously is the United States itself. That is Trump's major contribution The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire." ..."
"... The US govt. have long since paid off most every European politician. Thusly, Europe, as separate nations that should be remain still under the yolk of the US Financial/Political/Military power. ..."
"... In any event, it is the same today. Energy underlies, not only the military but, all of world civilization. Oil and gas are overwhelmingly the source of energy for the modern world. Without it, civilization collapses. Thus, he who controls oil (and gas) controls the world. ..."
"... the link between the US $$$ and Saudi Oil, is the absolute means of the American Dollar to reign complete. This payment system FEEDS both the US Military, but WALL STREET, hedge funds, the US/EU oligarchs – to name just a few entities. ..."
Jan 09, 2020 | thesaker.is

[this interview was made for the Unz Review ]

Introduction: After posting Michael Hudson's article " America Escalates its "Democratic" Oil War in the Near East " on the blog, I decided to ask Michael to reply to a few follow-up questions. Michael very kindly agreed. Please see our exchange below.

The Saker

-- -- -

The Saker: Trump has been accused of not thinking forward, of not having a long-term strategy regarding the consequences of assassinating General Suleimani. Does the United States in fact have a strategy in the Near East, or is it only ad hoc?

Michael Hudson: Of course American strategists will deny that the recent actions do not reflect a deliberate strategy, because their long-term strategy is so aggressive and exploitative that it would even strike the American public as being immoral and offensive if they came right out and said it.

President Trump is just the taxicab driver, taking the passengers he has accepted – Pompeo, Bolton and the Iran-derangement syndrome neocons – wherever they tell him they want to be driven. They want to pull a heist, and he's being used as the getaway driver (fully accepting his role). Their plan is to hold onto the main source of their international revenue: Saudi Arabia and the surrounding Near Eastern oil-export surpluses and money. They see the US losing its ability to exploit Russia and China, and look to keep Europe under its control by monopolizing key sectors so that it has the power to use sanctions to squeeze countries that resist turning over control of their economies and natural rentier monopolies to US buyers. In short, US strategists would like to do to Europe and the Near East just what they did to Russia under Yeltsin: turn over public infrastructure, natural resources and the banking system to U.S. owners, relying on US dollar credit to fund their domestic government spending and private investment.

This is basically a resource grab. Suleimani was in the same position as Chile's Allende, Libya's Qaddafi, Iraq's Saddam. The motto is that of Stalin: "No person, no problem."

The Saker: Your answer raises a question about Israel: In your recent article you only mention Israel twice, and these are only passing comments. Furthermore, you also clearly say the US Oil lobby as much more crucial than the Israel Lobby, so here is my follow-up question to you: On what basis have you come to this conclusion and how powerful do you believe the Israel Lobby to be compared to, say, the Oil lobby or the US Military-Industrial Complex? To what degree do their interests coincide and to what degree to they differ?

Michael Hudson: I wrote my article to explain the most basic concerns of U.S. international diplomacy: the balance of payments (dollarizing the global economy, basing foreign central bank savings on loans to the U.S. Treasury to finance the military spending mainly responsible for the international and domestic budget deficit), oil (and the enormous revenue produced by the international oil trade), and recruitment of foreign fighters (given the impossibility of drafting domestic U.S. soldiers in sufficient numbers). From the time these concerns became critical to today, Israel was viewed as a U.S. military base and supporter, but the U.S. policy was formulated independently of Israel.

I remember one day in 1973 or '74 I was traveling with my Hudson Institute colleague Uzi Arad (later a head of Mossad and advisor to Netanyahu) to Asia, stopping off in San Francisco. At a quasi-party, a U.S. general came up to Uzi and clapped him on the shoulder and said, "You're our landed aircraft carrier in the Near East," and expressed his friendship.

Uzi was rather embarrassed. But that's how the U.S. military thought of Israel back then. By that time the three planks of U.S. foreign policy strategy that I outlined were already firmly in place.

Of course Netanyahu has applauded U.S. moves to break up Syria, and Trump's assassination choice. But the move is a U.S. move, and it's the U.S. that is acting on behalf of the dollar standard, oil power and mobilizing Saudi Arabia's Wahabi army.

Israel fits into the U.S.-structured global diplomacy much like Turkey does. They and other countries act opportunistically within the context set by U.S. diplomacy to pursue their own policies. Obviously Israel wants to secure the Golan Heights; hence its opposition to Syria, and also its fight with Lebanon; hence, its opposition to Iran as the backer of Assad and Hezbollah. This dovetails with US policy.

But when it comes to the global and U.S. domestic response, it's the United States that is the determining active force. And its concern rests above all with protecting its cash cow of Saudi Arabia, as well as working with the Saudi jihadis to destabilize governments whose foreign policy is independent of U.S. direction – from Syria to Russia (Wahabis in Chechnya) to China (Wahabis in the western Uighur region). The Saudis provide the underpinning for U.S. dollarization (by recycling their oil revenues into U.S. financial investments and arms purchases), and also by providing and organizing the ISIS terrorists and coordinating their destruction with U.S. objectives. Both the Oil lobby and the Military-Industrial Complex obtain huge economic benefits from the Saudis.

Therefore, to focus one-sidedly on Israel is a distraction away from what the US-centered international order really is all about.

The Saker: In your recent article you wrote: " The assassination was intended to escalate America's presence in Iraq to keep control the region's oil reserves ." Others believe that the goal was precisely the opposite, to get a pretext to remove the US forces from both Iraq and Syria. What are your grounds to believe that your hypothesis is the most likely one?

Michael Hudson: Why would killing Suleimani help remove the U.S. presence? He was the leader of the fight against ISIS, especially in Syria. US policy was to continue using ISIS to permanently destabilize Syria and Iraq so as to prevent a Shi'ite crescent reaching from Iran to Lebanon – which incidentally would serve as part of China's Belt and Road initiative. So it killed Suleimani to prevent the peace negotiation. He was killed because he had been invited by Iraq's government to help mediate a rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. That was what the United States feared most of all, because it effectively would prevent its control of the region and Trump's drive to seize Iraqi and Syrian oil.

So using the usual Orwellian doublethink, Suleimani was accused of being a terrorist, and assassinated under the U.S. 2002 military Authorization Bill giving the President to move without Congressional approval against Al Qaeda. Trump used it to protect Al Qaeda's terrorist ISIS offshoots.

Given my three planks of U.S. diplomacy described above, the United States must remain in the Near East to hold onto Saudi Arabia and try to make Iraq and Syria client states equally subservient to U.S. balance-of-payments and oil policy.

Certainly the Saudis must realize that as the buttress of U.S. aggression and terrorism in the Near East, their country (and oil reserves) are the most obvious target to speed the parting guest. I suspect that this is why they are seeking a rapprochement with Iran. And I think it is destined to come about, at least to provide breathing room and remove the threat. The Iranian missiles to Iraq were a demonstration of how easy it would be to aim them at Saudi oil fields. What then would be Aramco's stock market valuation?

The Saker: In your article you wrote: " The major deficit in the U.S. balance of payments has long been military spending abroad. The entire payments deficit, beginning with the Korean War in 1950-51 and extending through the Vietnam War of the 1960s, was responsible for forcing the dollar off gold in 1971. The problem facing America's military strategists was how to continue supporting the 800 U.S. military bases around the world and allied troop support without losing America's financial leverage. " I want to ask a basic, really primitive question in this regard: how cares about the balance of payments as long as 1) the US continues to print money 2) most of the world will still want dollars. Does that not give the US an essentially "infinite" budget? What is the flaw in this logic?

Michael Hudson: The U.S. Treasury can create dollars to spend at home, and the Fed can increase the banking system's ability to create dollar credit and pay debts denominated in US dollars. But they cannot create foreign currency to pay other countries, unless they willingly accept dollars ad infinitum – and that entails bearing the costs of financing the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit, getting only IOUs in exchange for real resources that they sell to U.S. buyers.

This is the situation that arose half a century ago. The United States could print dollars in 1971, but it could not print gold.

In the 1920s, Germany's Reichsbank could print deutsche marks – trillions of them. When it came to pay Germany's foreign reparations debt, all it could do was to throw these D-marks onto the foreign exchange market. That crashed the currency's exchange rate, forcing up the price of imports proportionally and causing the German hyperinflation.

The question is, how many surplus dollars do foreign governments want to hold. Supporting the dollar standard ends up supporting U.S. foreign diplomacy and military policy. For the first time since World War II, the most rapidly growing parts of the world are seeking to de-dollarize their economies by reducing reliance on U.S. exports, U.S. investment, and U.S. bank loans. This move is creating an alternative to the dollar, likely to replace it with groups of other currencies and assets in national financial reserves.

The Saker: In the same article you also write: " So maintaining the dollar as the world's reserve currency became a mainstay of U.S. military spending. " We often hear people say that the dollar is about to tank and that as soon as that happens, then the US economy (and, according to some, the EU economy too) will collapse. In the intelligence community there is something called tracking the "indicators and warnings". My question to you is: what are the economic "indicators and warnings" of a possible (probable?) collapse of the US dollar followed by a collapse of the financial markets most tied to the Dollar? What shall people like myself (I am an economic ignoramus) keep an eye on and look for?

Michael Hudson: What is most likely is a slow decline, largely from debt deflation and cutbacks in social spending, in the Eurozone and US economies. Of course, the decline will force the more highly debt-leveraged companies to miss their bond payments and drive them into insolvency. That is the fate of Thatcherized economies. But it will be long and painfully drawn out, largely because there is little left-wing socialist alternative to neoliberalism at present.

Trump's protectionist policies and sanctions are forcing other countries to become self-reliant and independent of US suppliers, from farm crops to airplanes and military arms, against the US threat of a cutoff or sanctions against repairs, spare parts and servicing. Sanctioning Russian agriculture has helped it become a major crop exporter, and to become much more independent in vegetables, dairy and cheese products. The US has little to offer industrially, especially given the fact that its IT communications are stuffed with US spyware.

Europe therefore is facing increasing pressure from its business sector to choose the non-US economic alliance that is growing more rapidly and offers a more profitable investment market and more secure trade supplier. Countries will turn as much as possible (diplomatically as well as financially and economically) to non-US suppliers because the United States is not reliable, and because it is being shrunk by the neoliberal policies supported by Trump and the Democrats alike. A byproduct probably will be a continued move toward gold as an alternative do the dollar in settling balance-of-payments deficits.

The Saker: Finally, my last question: which country out there do you see as the most capable foe of the current US-imposed international political and economic world order? whom do you believe that US Deep State and the Neocons fear most? China? Russia? Iran? some other country? How would you compare them and on the basis of what criteria?

Michael Hudson: The leading country breaking up US hegemony obviously is the United States itself. That is Trump's major contribution. He is uniting the world in a move toward multi-centrism much more than any ostensibly anti-American could have done. And he is doing it all in the name of American patriotism and nationalism – the ultimate Orwellian rhetorical wrapping!

Trump has driven Russia and China together with the other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), including Iran as observer. His demand that NATO join in US oil grabs and its supportive terrorism in the Near East and military confrontation with Russia in Ukraine and elsewhere probably will lead to European "Ami go home" demonstrations against NATO and America's threat of World War III.

No single country can counter the U.S. unipolar world order. It takes a critical mass of countries. This already is taking place among the countries that you list above. They are simply acting in their own common interest, using their own mutual currencies for trade and investment. The effect is an alternative multilateral currency and trading area.

The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire. In effect, foreign countries are beginning to respond to the United States what the ten tribes of Israel said when they withdrew from the southern kingdom of Judah, whose king Rehoboam refused to lighten his demands (1 Kings 12). They echoed the cry of Sheba son of Bikri a generation earlier: "Look after your own house, O David!" The message is: What do other countries have to gain by remaining in the US unipolar neoliberalized world, as compared to using their own wealth to build up their own economies? It's an age-old problem.

The dollar will still play a role in US trade and investment, but it will be as just another currency, held at arms length until it finally gives up its domineering attempt to strip other countries' wealth for itself. However, its demise may not be a pretty sight.

The Saker: I thank you very much for your time and answers! ­


Col...'the farmer from NZ' on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:19 pm EST/EDT

What a truly superb interview!

Another one that absolutely stands for me out is the below link to a recent interview of Hussein Askary.

As I wrote a few days ago IMO this too is a wonderful insight into the utterly complicated dynamics of the tinderbox that the situation in Iran and Iraq has become.

Conflict in the ME has traditionally almost always been about oil [and of course Israel]. This situation is different. It is only partially about oil and Israel, but OVERWHHEMINGLY it is about the BRI.

The salient factor as I see it is the Oil for Technology initiative that Iraq signed with China shortly before it slid into this current mess.

This was a mechanism whereby China would buy Iraq oil and these funds would be used directly to fund infrastructure and self-sufficiency initiatives and technologies that would help to drag Iraq out of the complete disaster that the US war had created in this country. A key part of this would be that China would also make extra loans available at the same time to speed up this development.

In essence, this would enable the direct and efficient linking of Iraq into the BRI project. Going forward the economic gains and the political stability that could come out of this would be a completely new paradigm in the recovery of Iraq both economically and politically. Iraq is essential for a major part of the dynamics of the BRI because of its strategic location and the fact that it could form a major hub in the overall network.

It absolutely goes without saying that the AAA would do everything the could to wreck this plan. This is their playbook and is exactly what they have done. The moronic and extraordinarily impulsive Trump subsequently was easily duped into being a willing and idiotic accomplice in this plan.

The positive in all of this is that this whole scheme will backfire spectacularly for the perpetrators and will more than likely now speed up the whole process in getting Iraq back on track and working towards stability and prosperity.

Please don't anyone try to claim that Trump is part of any grand plan nothing could be further from the truth he is nothing more than a bludgeoning imbecile foundering around, lashing out impulsively indiscriminately. He is completely oblivious and ignorant as to the real picture.

I urge everyone involved in this Saker site to put aside an hour and to listen very carefully to Askary's insights. This is extremely important and could bring more clarity to understanding the situation than just about everything else you have read put together. There is hope, and Askary highlights the huge stakes that both Russia and China have in the region.

This is a no brainer. This is the time for both Russia and China to act and to decisively. They must cooperate in assisting both Iraq and Iran to extract themselves from the current quagmire the one that the vicious Hegemon so cruelly and thoughtlessly tossed them into.

Cheers from the south seas
Col

And the link to the Askary interview: . https://youtu.be/UD1hWq6KD44

Col...'the farmer from NZ' on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:22 pm EST/EDT
Also interesting is what Simon Watkins reports in his recent article entitled "Is Iraq About To Become A Chinese Client State?"

To quote from the article:

"Iraq's Finance Ministry that the country had started exporting 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to China in October as part of the 20-year oil-for-infrastructure deal agreed between the two countries."

and

"For Iraq and Iran, China's plans are particularly far-reaching, OilPrice.com has been told by a senior oil industry figure who works closely with Iran's Petroleum Ministry and Iraq's Oil Ministry. China will begin with the oil and gas sector and work outwards from that central point. In addition to being granted huge reductions on buying Iranian oil and gas, China is to be given the opportunity to build factories in both Iran and Iraq – and build-out infrastructure, such as railways – overseen by its own management staff from Chinese companies. These are to have the same operational structure and assembly lines as those in China, so that they fit seamlessly into various Chinese companies' assembly lines' process for whatever product a particular company is manufacturing, whilst also being able to use the still-cheap labour available in both Iraq and Iraq."

and

"The second key announcement in this vein made last week from Iraq was that the Oil Ministry has completed the pre-qualifying process for companies interested in participating in the Iraqi-Jordanian oil pipeline project. The U$5 billion pipeline is aimed at carrying oil produced from the Rumaila oilfield in Iraq's Basra Governorate to the Jordanian port of Aqaba, with the first phase of the project comprising the installation of a 700-kilometre-long pipeline with a capacity of 2.25 million bpd within the Iraqi territories (Rumaila-Haditha). The second phase includes installing a 900-kilometre pipeline in Jordan between Haditha and Aqaba with a capacity of 1 million bpd. Iraq's Oil Minister – for the time being, at least – Thamir Ghadhban added that the Ministry has formed a team to prepare legal contracts, address financial issues and oversee technical standards for implementing the project, and that May will be the final month in which offers for the project from the qualified companies will be accepted and that the winners will be announced before the end of this year. Around 150,000 barrels of the oil from Iraq would be used for Jordan's domestic needs, whilst the remainder would be exported through Aqaba to various destinations, generating about US$3 billion a year in revenues to Jordan, with the rest going to Iraq. Given that the contractors will be expected to front-load all of the financing for the projects associated with this pipeline, Baghdad expects that such tender offers will be dominated by Chinese and Russian companies, according to the Iran and Iraq source."

Cheers
Col

And the link https://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/Middle-East/Is-Iraq-About-To-Become-A-Chinese-Client-State.html#

Anonymouse on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:20 pm EST/EDT
Hudson is so good. He's massively superior to most so called military analysts and alternative bloggers on the net. He can clearly see the over arching picture and how the military is used to protect and project it. The idea that the US is going to leave the middle east until they are forced to is so blind as to be ridiculous.

They will not sacrifice the (free) oil until booted out by a coalition of Arab countries threatening to over run them and that is why the dollar hegemonys death will be slow, long and drawn out and they will do anything, any dirty trick in the book, to prevent Arab/Persian unity. Unlike many peoples obsession with Israel and how important they feel themselves to be I think Hudson is correct again. They are the middle eastern version of the British – a stationary aircraft carrier who will allow themselves to be used and abused whilst living under the illusion they are major players. They aren't. They're bit part players in decline, subservient to the great dollar and oil pyramid scheme that keeps America afloat. If you want to beat America you have to understand the big scheme, that and the utter insanity that backs it up. It is that insanity of the leites, the inability to allow themselves to be 'beaten' that will keep nuclear exchange as a real possibility over the next 10 to 15 years. Unification is the only thing that can stop it and trying to unite so many disparate countries (as the Russians are trying to do despite multiple provocations) is where the future lies and why it will take so long. It is truly breath taking in such a horrific way, as Hudson mentions, that to allow the world to see its 'masters of the universe' pogram to be revealed:

"Of course American strategists will deny that the recent actions do not reflect a deliberate strategy, because their long-term strategy is so aggressive and exploitative that it would even strike the American public as being immoral and offensive if they came right out and said it."

Would be to allow it to be undermined at home and abroad. God help us all.

Little Black Duck on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:01 pm EST/EDT
They're bit part players in decline, subservient to the great dollar and oil pyramid scheme that keeps America afloat.

So who owns the dollar? And who owns the oil companies?

Osori on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:06 pm EST/EDT
I'd never thought of that "stationary aircraft carrier" comparison between Israel and the British, very apt.
Zachary Smith on January 09, 2020 , · at 9:53 pm EST/EDT
Clever would be a better word. Looking at my world globe, I see Italy, Greece, and Turkey on that end of the Mediterranean. Turkey has been in NATO since 1952. Crete and Cyprus are also right there. Doesn't Hudson own a globe or regional map?

That a US Admiral would be gushing about the Apartheid state 7 years after the attempted destruction of the USS Liberty is painful to consider. I'd like to disbelieve the story, but it's quite likely there were a number of high-ranking ***holes in a Naval Uniform.

44360 on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:34 pm EST/EDT
The world situation reminds us of the timeless fable by Aesop of The North Wind and the Sun.

Trump et al assassinated someone who was on a diplomatic mission. This action was so far removed from acceptable behavior that it must have been considered to be "by any means and at all costs".

Perhaps the most potent weapon Iran or anyone else has at this critical juncture, is not missiles, but diplomacy.

Ahmed on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:37 pm EST/EDT
"Therefore, to focus one-sidedly on Israel is a distraction away from what the US-centered international order really is all about."

Thank you for saying this sir. In the US and around the world many people become obsessively fixated in seeing a "jew" or zionist behind every bush. Now the Zionists are certinly an evil, blood thirsty bunch, and certainly deserve the scorn of the world, but i feel its a cop out sometimes. A person from the US has a hard time stomaching the actions of their country, so they just hoist all the unpleasentries on to the zionists. They put it all on zionisim, and completly fail to mention imperialism. I always switced back and forth on the topic my self. But i cant see how a beachead like the zionist state, a stationary carrier, can be bigger than the empire itself. Just look at the major leaders in the resistance groups, the US was always seen as the ultimate obstruction, while israel was seen as a regional obstruction. Like sayyed hassan nasrallah said in his recent speech about the martyrs, that if the US is kicked out, the Israelis might just run away with out even fighting. I hate it when people say "we are in the middle east for israel" when it can easily be said that "israel is still in the mid east because of the US." If the US seized to exist today, israel would fall rather quickly. If israel fell today the US would still continue being an imperalist, bloodthirsty entity.

Azorka1861 on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:57 pm EST/EDT
The Deeper Story behind the Assassination of Soleimani

This article, published by Strategic Culture, features a translation of Mahdi's speech to the Iraqi parliament in which he states that Trump threatened him with assassination and the US admitted to killing hundreds of demonstrators using Navy SEAL snipers.

https://www.veteranstoday.com/2020/01/08/vital-the-deeper-story-behind-the-assassination-of-soleimani/

..

Nils on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:05 pm EST/EDT
This description provided by Mr Hudson is no Moore than the financial basis behind the Cebrowski doctrine instituted on 9/11. https://www.voltairenet.org/article

I wish the Saker had asked Mr Hudson about some crucial recent events to get his opinion with regards to US foreign policy. Specifically, how does the emergence of cryptocurrency relate to dollar finance and the US grand strategy? A helpful tool for the hegemon or the emergence of a new currency that prevents unlimited currency printing? Finally, what is global warming and the associated carbon credit system? The next planned model of continuing global domination and balance of payments? Or true organic attempt at fair energy production and management?

Much thanks for this interview, Saker

Col...'the farmer from NZ' on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:26 pm EST/EDT
With all due respect, these are huge questions in themselves and perhaps could to be addressed in separate interviews. IMO it doesn't always work that well to try to cover too much ground in just one giant leap.

Regards
Col

Mike from Jersey on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:26 pm EST/EDT
I have never understood the Cebrowski doctrine. How does the destruction of Middle Eastern state structures allow the US to control Middle East Oil? The level of chaos generated by such an act would seem to prevent anyone from controlled the oil.
Outlaw Historian on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:48 pm EST/EDT
Dr. Hudson often appears on RT's "Keiser Report" where he covers many contemporary topics with its host Max Keiser. Many of the shows transcripts are available at Hudson's website . Indeed, after the two Saker items, you'll find three programs on the first page. Using the search function at his site, you'll find the two articles he's written that deal with bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, although I think he's been more specific in the TV interviews.

As for this Q&A, its an A+. Hudson's 100% correct to playdown the Zionist influence given the longstanding nature of the Outlaw US Empire's methods that began well before the rise of the Zionist Lobby, which in reality is a recycling of aid dollars back to Congress in the form of bribes.

RR on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:59 pm EST/EDT
Nils: Good Article. The spirit of Nihilism.
Quote from Neocon Michael Ladeen.

"Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace. Seeing America undo traditional societies, they fear us, for they do not wish to be undone. They cannot feel secure so long as we are there, for our very existence -- our existence, not our politics -- threatens their legitimacy. They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission."

Frank on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:27 pm EST/EDT
@NILS As far as crypto currency goes it is a brilliant idea in concept. But since during the Bush years we have been shown multiple times, who actually owns [and therefore controls] the internet. Many times now we have also been informed that through the monitoring capability's of our defense agency's, they are recording every key stroke. IMO, with the flip of a switch, we can shut down the internet. At the very least, that would stop us from being able to trade in crypto, but they have e-files on each of us. They know our passwords, or can easily access them. That does not give me confidence in e=currency during a teotwawki situation.
Anonymous on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:34 pm EST/EDT
A truly superb interview, thanks Michael Hudson.
David on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:39 pm EST/EDT
One thing that troubles me about the petrodollar thesis is that ANNUAL trade in oil is about 2 trillion DAILY trade in $US is 4 trillion. I can well believe the US thinks oil is the bedrock if dollar hegemony but is it? I see no alternative to US dollar hegemony.
Mike from Jersey on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:17 pm EST/EDT
Excellent article.

The lines that really got my attention were these:

"The leading country breaking up US hegemony obviously is the United States itself. That is Trump's major contribution The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire."

That is so completely true. I have wondered why – to date – there had not been more movement by Europe away from the United States. But while reading the article the following occurred to me. Maybe Europe is awaiting the next U.S. election. Maybe they hope that a new president (someone like Biden) might allow Europe to keep more of the "spoils."

If that is true, then a re-election of Trump will probably send Europe fleeing for the exits. The Europeans will be cutting deals with Russia and China like the store is on fire.

Rubicon on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:22 pm EST/EDT
The critical player in forming the EU WAS/IS the US financial Elites. Yes, they had many ultra powerful Europeans, especially Germany, but it was the US who initiated the EU.

Purpose? For the US Financial Powerhouses & US politicians to "take Europe captive." Notice the similarities: the EU has its Central Bank who communicates with the private Banksters of the FED. Much austerity has ensued, especially in Southern nations: Greece, Italy, etc. Purpose: to smash unions, worker's pay, eliminate unions, and basically allowing US/EU Financial capital to buy out Italy, most of Greece, and a goodly section of Spain and Portugal.

The US govt. have long since paid off most every European politician. Thusly, Europe, as separate nations that should be remain still under the yolk of the US Financial/Political/Military power.

Craig Mouldey on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:19 pm EST/EDT
I have a hard time wrapping my head around this but it sounds like he is saying that the U.S. has a payment deficit problem which is solved by stealing the world's oil supplies. To do this they must have a powerful, expensive military. But it is primarily this military which is the main cause of the balance deficit. So it is an eternally fuelled problem and solution. If I understand this, what it actually means is that we all live on a plantation as slaves and everything that is happening is for the benefit of the few wealthy billionaires. And they intend to turn the entire world into their plantation of slaves. They may even let you live for a while longer.
Mike from Jersey on January 09, 2020 , · at 9:25 pm EST/EDT
Actually, oil underlies everything.

I didn't know this until I read a history of World War I.

As you know, World War One was irresolvable, murderous, bloody trench warfare. People would charge out of the trenches trying to overrun enemy positions only to be cutdown by the super weapon of the day – the machine gun. It was an unending bloody stalemate until the development of the tank. Tanks were immune to machine gun fire coming from the trenches and could overrun enemy positions. In the aftermath of that war, it became apparently that mechanization had become crucial to military supremacy. In turn, fuel was crucial to mechanization. Accordingly, in the Sykes Picot agreement France and Britain divided a large amount of Middle Eastern oil between themselves in order to assure military dominance. (The United States had plenty of their own oil at that time.)

In any event, it is the same today. Energy underlies, not only the military but, all of world civilization. Oil and gas are overwhelmingly the source of energy for the modern world. Without it, civilization collapses. Thus, he who controls oil (and gas) controls the world.

That is one third of the story. The second third is this.

Up till 1971, the United States dollar was the most trusted currency in the world. The dollar was backed by gold and lots and lots of it. Dollars were in fact redeemable in gold. However, due to Vietnam War, the United States started running huge balance of payments deficits. Other countries – most notably France under De Gaulle – started cashing in dollars in exchange for that gold. Gold started flooding out of the United States. At that point Nixon took the United States off of the gold standard. Basically stating that the dollar was no longer backed by gold and dollars could not be redeemed for gold. That caused an international payments problem. People would no longer accept dollars as payment since the dollar was not backed up by anything. The American economy was in big trouble since they were running deficits and people would no longer take dollars on faith.

To fix the problem, Henry Kissinger convinced the Saudis to agree to only accept dollars in payment for oil – no matter who was the buyer. That meant that nations throughout the world now needed dollars in order to pay for their energy needs. Due to this, the dollars was once again the most important currency in the world since – as noted above – energy underlies everything in modern industrial cultures. Additionally, since dollars were now needed throughout the world, it became common to make all trades for any product in highly valued dollars. Everyone needed dollars for every thing, oil or not.

At that point, the United States could go on printing dollars and spending them since a growing world economy needed more and more dollars to buy oil as well as to trade everything else.

That leads to the third part of the story. In order to convince the Saudis to accept only dollars in payments for oil (and to have the Saudis strong arm other oil producers to do the same) Kissinger promised to protect the brutal Saudi regime's hold on power against a restive citizenry and also to protect the Saudi's against other nations. Additionally, Kissinger made an implicit threat that if the Saudi's did not agree, the US would come in and just take their oil. The Saudis agreed.

Thus, the three keys to dominance in the modern world are thus: oil, dollars and the military.

Thus, Hudson ties in the three threads in his interview above. Oil, Dollars, Military. That is what holds the empire together.

Rubicon on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:26 pm EST/EDT
Thank you for thinking through this. Yes, the link between the US $$$ and Saudi Oil, is the absolute means of the American Dollar to reign complete. This payment system FEEDS both the US Military, but WALL STREET, hedge funds, the US/EU oligarchs – to name just a few entities.
Stanislaw Janowicz on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:58 pm EST/EDT
I should make one note only to this. That "no man, no problem" was Stalin's motto is a myth. He never said that. It was invented by a writer Alexei Rybnikov and inserted in his book "The Children of Arbat".
Greg Horrall on January 09, 2020 , · at 9:42 pm EST/EDT
Wow! Absolutely beautiful summation of the ultimate causes that got us where we are and, if left intact, will get us to where we're going!

So, the dreamer says: If only we could throw-off our us-vs-them BS political-economic ideology & religious doctrine-faith issues, put them into live-and-let-live mode, and see that we are all just humans fighting over this oil resource to which our modern economy (way of life) is addicted, then we might be able to hammer out some new rules for interacting, for running an earth-resource sustainable and fair global economy We do at least have the technology to leave behind our oil addiction, but the political-economic will still is lacking. How much more of the current insanity must we have before we get that will? Will we get it before it's too late?

Only if we, a sufficient majority from the lowest economic classes to the top elites and throughout all nations, are able to psychologically-spiritually internalize the two principles of Common Humanity and Spaceship Earth soon enough, will we stop our current slide off the cliff into modern economic collapse and avert all the pain and suffering that's already now with us and that will intensify.

The realist says we're not going to stop that slide and it's the only way we're going to learn, if we are indeed ever going to learn.

Ann Watson on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:42 pm EST/EDT
So now we know why Michael Hudson avoids the Israel involvment – Like Pepe.
Лишний Человек on January 09, 2020 , · at 11:02 pm EST/EDT
Thank you for this excellent interview. You ask the kind of questions that we would all like to ask. It's regrettable that Chalmers Johnson isn't still alive. I believe that you and he would have a lot in common.

Naxos has produced an incredible, unabridged cd audiobook of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. One of Gibbon's observations really resonates today: "Assassination is the last resource of cowards". Thanks again.

[Jan 09, 2020] Opposing War With Iran: Three Reasons by Anthony DiMaggio

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... War will allow Trump to claim the mantle of "national" wartime leader, while diverting attention away from his impeachment trial. And in light of the intensification of belligerent rhetoric from this administration, war appears to be increasingly likely. ..."
"... The American people have a moral responsibility to question not only Trump's motives, but to consider the humanitarian disaster that inevitably accompanies war. ..."
"... is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University. He holds a PhD in political communication, and is the author of the newly released: The Politics of Persuasion: Economic Policy and Media Bias in the Modern Era (Paperback, 2018), and Selling War, Selling Hope: Presidential Rhetoric, the News Media , and U.S. Foreign Policy After 9/11 (Paperback: 2016). He can be reached at: anthonydimaggio612@gmail.com ..."
Jan 09, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

The U.S. stands at the precipice of war. President Trump's rhetorical efforts to sell himself as the "anti-war" president have been exposed as a fraud via his assault on Iran. Most Orwellian of all is Trump's claim that the assassination of Iranian General Qassam Soleimani was necessary to avert war, following the New Year's Eve attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. In reality the U.S. hit on Soleimani represents a criminal escalation of the conflict between these two countries. The general's assassination was rightly seen as an act of war , so the claim that the strike is a step toward peace is absurd on its face. We should be perfectly clear about the fundamental threat to peace posed by the Trump administration. Iran has already promised "harsh retaliation" following the assassination, and announced it is pulling out of the 2015 multi-national agreement prohibiting the nation from developing nuclear weapons. Trump's escalation has dramatically increased the threat of all-out war. Recognizing this threat, I sketch out an argument here based on my initial thoughts of this conflict, providing three reasons for why Americans need to oppose war.

#1: No Agreement about an Iranian Threat

Soleimani was the head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – the Quds Force – a clandestine military intelligence organization that specializes in paramilitary-style operations throughout the Middle East, and which is described as seeking to further Iranian political influence throughout the region. Trump celebrated the assassination as necessary to bringing Soleimani's "reign of terror" to an end. The strike, he claimed, was vital after the U.S. caught Iran "in the act" of planning "imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel."

But Trump's justification for war comes from a country with a long history of distorting and fabricating evidence of an Iranian threat. American leaders have disingenuously and propagandistically portrayed Iran as on the brink of developing nuclear weapons for decades. Presidents Bush and Obama were both rebuked, however, by domestic intelligence and international weapons inspectors , which failed to uncover evidence that Iran was developing these weapons, or that it was a threat to the U.S.

Outside of previous exaggerations, evidence is emerging that the Trump administration and the intelligence community are not of one mind regarding Iran's alleged threat. Shortly after Soleimani's assassination, the Department of Homeland Security declared there was "no specific, credible threat" from Iran within U.S. borders. And U.S. military officials disagree regarding Trump's military escalation. As the New York Times reports :

"In the chaotic days leading to the death of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran's most powerful commander, top American military officials put the option of killing him -- which they viewed as the most extreme response to recent Iranian-led violence in Iraq -- on the menu they presented to President Trump. They didn't think he would take it. In the wars waged since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Pentagon officials have often offered improbable options to presidents to make other possibilities appear more palatable."

"Top pentagon officials," the Times reports , "were stunned" by the President's order. Furthermore, the paper reported that "the intelligence" supposedly confirming Iranian plans to attack U.S. diplomats was "thin," in the words of at least one U.S. military official who was privy to the administration's deliberations. According to that source , there is no evidence of an "imminent" attack in the foreseeable future against American targets outside U.S. borders.

U.S. leaders have always obscured facts, distorted intelligence, and fabricated information to stoke public fears and build support for war. So it should come as no surprise that this president is politicizing intelligence. He certainly has reason to – in order to draw attention away from his Senate impeachment trial, and considering Trump's increasingly desperate efforts to demonstrate that he is a serious President, not a tin-pot authoritarian who ignores the rule of law, while shamelessly coercing and extorting foreign leaders in pursuit of domestic electoral advantage.

Independent of the corruption charges against Trump, it is unwise for Americans to take the President at his word, considering the blatant lies employed in the post-9/11 era to justify war in the Middle East. Not so long ago the American public was sold a bill of goods regarding Iraq's alleged WMDs and ties to terrorism. Neither of those claims was remotely true, and Americans were left footing the bill for a war that cost trillions , based on the lies of an opportunistic president who was dead-set on exploiting public fears of terrorism in a time of crisis. The Bush administration sold war based on intelligence they knew was fraudulent, manipulating the nation into on a decade-long war that led to the murder of more than 1 million Iraqis and more than 5,000 American servicemen, resulting in a failed Iraqi state, and paving the way for the rise of ISIS. All of this is to say that the risks of beginning another war in the Middle East are incredibly high, and Americans would do well to seriously consider the consequences of entering a war based (yet again) on questionable intelligence.

#2: The "War on Terrorism" as a Red Herring

U.S. leaders have long used the rhetoric of terrorism to justify war. But this strategy represents a serious distortion of reality, via the conflation of terrorism – understood as premeditated acts of violence to intimidate civilians – with acts of war. Trump fed into this misrepresentation when he described Soleimani's "reign of terror" as encompassing not only the alleged targeting of U.S. diplomats, but attacks on "U.S. military personnel." The effort to link the deaths of U.S. soldiers in wartime to terrorism echoes the State Department's 2019 statement , which designated Iran's Quds Force a "terrorist" organization, citing its responsibility "for the deaths of at least 603 American service members in Iraq" from "2003 to 2011" via its support for Iraqi militias that were engaging in attacks on U.S. forces.

As propaganda goes, the attempt to link these acts of war to "terrorism" is quite perverse. U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq were participating in a criminal, illegal occupation, which was widely condemned by the international community. The U.S. war in Iraq was a crime of aggression under the Nuremberg Charter, and it violated the United Nations Charter's prohibition on the use of force, which is only allowed via Security Council authorization (which the U.S. did not have), or in the case of military acts undertaken in self-defense against an ongoing attack (Iraq was not at war with the U.S. prior to the 2003 invasion). Contrary to Trump's and the State Department's propaganda, there are no grounds to classify the deaths of military personnel in an illegal war as terrorism. Instead, one could argue that domestic Iraqi political actors (of which Iraqi militias are included, regardless of their ties to Iran) were within their legal rights under international law to engage in acts of self-defense against American troops acting on behalf of a belligerent foreign power, which was conducting an illegal occupation.

#3: More War = Further Destabilization of the Middle East

The largest takeaway from recent events should be to recognize the tremendous danger that escalation of war poses to the U.S. and the region. The legacy of U.S. militarism in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, is one of death, destruction, and instability. Every major war involving the U.S. has produced humanitarian devastation and mass destruction, while fueling instability and terrorism. With the 1979 Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, U.S. support for Mujahedeen radicals led to the breakdown of social order, and the rise of the radical Taliban regime, which housed al Qaeda fundamentalists in the years prior to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. The 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan contributed to the further deterioration of Afghan society, and was accompanied by the return of the Taliban, ensuing in a civil war that has persisted over the last two decades.

With Iraq, the U.S. invasion produced a massive security vacuum following the collapse of the Iraqi government, which made possible the rise of al Qaeda in Iraq. The U.S. fueled numerous civil wars, in Iraq during the 2000s and Syria in the 2010s, creating mass instability, and giving rise to ISIS, which became a mini-state of its own operating across both countries. And then there was the 2011 U.S.-NATO supported rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi, which not only resulted in the dictator's overthrow, but in the rise of another ISIS affiliate within Libya's border. Even Obama, the biggest cheerleader for the war, subsequently admitted the intervention was his "worst mistake," due to the civil war that emerged after Gaddafi's overthrow, which opened the door for the rise of ISIS.

All of these conflicts have one thing in common. They brought tremendous devastation to the countries under assault, via scorched-earth military campaigns, which left death, misery, and destruction in their wake. The U.S. is adept at destroying countries, but shows little interest in, or ability to reconstruct them. These wars provided fertile ground for Islamist radicals, who took advantage of the resulting chaos and instability.

The primary lesson of the "War on Terror" should be clear to rationally minded observers: U.S. wars breed not only instability, but desperation, as the people victimized by war become increasingly tolerant of domestic extremist movements. Repressive states are widely reviled by the people they subjugate. But the only thing worse than a dictatorship is no order at all, when societies collapse into civil war, anarchy, and genocide. The story of ISIS's rise is one of citizens suffering under war and instability, and becoming increasingly tolerant of extremist political actors, so long as they are able to provide order in times of crisis. This point is consistently neglected in U.S. political and media discourse – a sign of how propagandistic "debates" over war have become, nearly 20 years into the U.S. "War on Terrorism."

Where Do We Go From Here?

Trump followed up the Soleimani assassination with a Twitter announcement that the U.S. has "targeted" 52 additional "Iranian sites," which will be attacked "if Iran strikes any Americans or American assets." There's no reason in light of recent events to chalk this announcement up to typical Trump-Twitter bluster. This President is desperate to begin a war with Iran, as Trump has courted confrontation with the Islamic republic since the early days of his presidency.

War will allow Trump to claim the mantle of "national" wartime leader, while diverting attention away from his impeachment trial. And in light of the intensification of belligerent rhetoric from this administration, war appears to be increasingly likely.

The American people have a moral responsibility to question not only Trump's motives, but to consider the humanitarian disaster that inevitably accompanies war. War with Iran will only make the Middle East more unstable, further fueling anti-American radicalism, and increasing the terror threat to the U.S. This conclusion isn't based on speculation, but on two decades of experience with a "War on Terror" that's done little but destroy nations and increase terror threats. The American people can reduce the dangers of war by protesting Trump's latest provocation, and by pressuring Congress to pass legislation condemning any future attack on Iran as a violation of national and international law.

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More articles by: Anthony DiMaggio

Anthony DiMaggio is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University. He holds a PhD in political communication, and is the author of the newly released: The Politics of Persuasion: Economic Policy and Media Bias in the Modern Era (Paperback, 2018), and Selling War, Selling Hope: Presidential Rhetoric, the News Media , and U.S. Foreign Policy After 9/11 (Paperback: 2016). He can be reached at: anthonydimaggio612@gmail.com

[Jan 03, 2020] A new brilliant diplomatic strategy of Trump administration: Threatening Iran by killing Iraqis

"USA clusterfuck express hurtles headlong down the track for a rendezvous with disaster: War with a united Iraq and Iran, with the latter backed by the Russians and Chinese. https://www.checkpointasia.net/iraqi-pm-told-trump-gang-they-didnt-have-permission-to-bomb-iraqi-paramilitaries-they-did-it-anyway/ "
Jan 03, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al January 2, 2020 at 10:32 am

Sic Semper tyrannis: Our Embassy in Baghdad – TTG
https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/

For weeks, it was Iranian consulates and facilities that bore the brunt of Iraqi popular unrest. Iran reacted with restraint. With our lethal attacks on the Kata'ib Hezbollah, we changed that. Pompeo, Esper and Trump are keeping up the trash talking. Threatening Iran by killing Iraqis whose ass was that brilliant diplomatic strategy pulled from?
####

Plenty more at the link.

Have dick, will step on!

[Jan 03, 2020] If you previously have doubts that Trump is senile warmonger, not you have a definite proof

Bombing a civilian airport in another country in order to assassinate Iranian and Iraq leaders is a very bad diplomacy ;-)
It might well be that today this idiot blow up his chances fro reelection because revenge is dish that should be served cold and Iran can postpone it for 11 months or so.
What is interesting is that neoliberal MSM are glad and still talking about Zelensky and impeachment. What a country ! It looks like the decade of the twenties can be the decade of another World War. "In every war the first casualty is truth."
Jan 03, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Trump think that the war with Iran will be another cake walk, like in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a proof that he is a senile idiot.

[Jan 03, 2020] I guess Trump decided had to make the 1914-vintage Hapsburgs look relatively competent

Bombing a civilian airport in another country in order to assassinate Iranian and Iraq leaders is a very bad diplomacy ;-)
It might well be that today this idiot blow up his chances fro reelection because revenge is dish that should be served cold and Iran can postpone it for 11 months or so.
What is interesting is that neoliberal MSM are glad and still talking about Zelensky and impeachment. What a country ! It looks like the decade of the twenties can be the decade of another World War. "In every war the first casualty is truth."
Jan 03, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

I guess somebody had to make the 1914-vintage Hapsburgs look relatively competent,

Trump think that the war with Iran will be another cake walk, like in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a proof that he is a senile idiot.

[Dec 21, 2019] Trump comes clean from world s policeman to thug running a global protection racket by Finian Cunningham

Highly recommended!
In any case withdrawal from Syria was a surprising and bold move on the Part of the Trump. You can criticizes Trump for not doing more but before that he bahvaves as a typical neocon, or a typical Republican presidents (which are the same things). And he started on this path just two month after inauguration bombing Syria under false pretences. So this is something
I think the reason of change is that Trump intuitively realized the voters are abandoning him in droves and the sizable faction of his voters who voted for him because of his promises to end foreign wars iether already defected or is ready to defect. So this is a move designed to keep them.
Notable quotes:
"... "America shouldn't be doing the fighting for every nation on earth, not being reimbursed in many cases at all. If they want us to do the fighting, they also have to pay a price," Trump said. ..."
Dec 27, 2018 | www.rt.com

President Trump's big announcement to pull US troops out of Syria and Afghanistan is now emerging less as a peace move, and more a rationalization of American military power in the Middle East. In a surprise visit to US forces in Iraq this week, Trump said he had no intention of withdrawing the troops in that country, who have been there for nearly 15 years since GW Bush invaded back in 2003.

Hinting at private discussions with commanders in Iraq, Trump boasted that US forces would in the future launch attacks from there into Syria if and when needed. Presumably that rapid force deployment would apply to other countries in the region, including Afghanistan.

In other words, in typical business-style transactional thinking, Trump sees the pullout from Syria and Afghanistan as a cost-cutting exercise for US imperialism. Regarding Syria, he has bragged about Turkey being assigned, purportedly, to "finish off" terror groups. That's Trump subcontracting out US interests.

Critics and supporters of Trump are confounded. After his Syria and Afghanistan pullout call, domestic critics and NATO allies have accused him of walking from the alleged "fight against terrorism" and of ceding strategic ground to US adversaries Russia and Iran.

'We're no longer suckers of the world!' Trump says US is respected as nation AGAIN (VIDEO)

Meanwhile, Trump's supporters have viewed his decision in more benign light, cheering the president for "sticking it to" the deep state and military establishment, assuming he's delivering on electoral promises to end overseas wars.

However, neither view gets what is going on. Trump is not scaling back US military power; he is rationalizing it like a cost-benefit analysis, as perhaps only a real-estate-wheeler-dealer-turned president would appreciate. Trump is not snubbing US militarism or NATO allies, nor is he letting loose an inner peace spirit. He is as committed to projecting American military as ruthlessly and as recklessly as any other past occupant of the White House. The difference is Trump wants to do it on the cheap.

Here's what he said to reporters on Air Force One before touching down in Iraq:

"The United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world. It's not fair when the burden is all on us, the United States We are spread out all over the world. We are in countries most people haven't even heard about. Frankly, it's ridiculous." He added: "We're no longer the suckers, folks."

Laughably, Trump's griping about US forces "spread all over the world" unwittingly demonstrates the insatiable, monstrous nature of American militarism. But Trump paints this vice as a virtue, which, he complains, Washington gets no thanks for from the 150-plus countries around the globe that its forces are present in.

As US troops greeted him in Iraq, the president made explicit how the new American militarism would henceforth operate.

"America shouldn't be doing the fighting for every nation on earth, not being reimbursed in many cases at all. If they want us to do the fighting, they also have to pay a price," Trump said.

'We give them $4.5bn a year': Israel will still be 'good' after US withdrawal from Syria – Trump

This reiterates a big bugbear for this president in which he views US allies and client regimes as "not pulling their weight" in terms of military deployment. Trump has been browbeating European NATO members to cough up more on military budgets, and he has berated the Saudis and other Gulf Arab regimes to pay more for American interventions.

Notably, however, Trump has never questioned the largesse that US taxpayers fork out every year to Israel in the form of nearly $4 billion in military aid. To be sure, that money is not a gift because much of it goes back to the Pentagon from sales of fighter jets and missile systems.

The long-held notion that the US has served as the "world's policeman" is, of course, a travesty.

Since WWII, all presidents and the Washington establishment have constantly harped on, with self-righteousness, about America's mythical role as guarantor of global security.

Dozens of illegal wars on almost every continent and millions of civilian deaths attest to the real, heinous conduct of American militarism as a weapon to secure US corporate capitalism.

But with US economic power in historic decline amid a national debt now over $22 trillion, Washington can no longer afford its imperialist conduct in the traditional mode of direct US military invasions and occupations.

Perhaps, it takes a cost-cutting, raw-toothed capitalist like Trump to best understand the historic predicament, even if only superficially.

This gives away the real calculation behind his troop pullout from Syria and Afghanistan. Iraq is going to serve as a new regional hub for force projection on a demand-and-supply basis. In addition, more of the dirty work can be contracted out to Washington's clients like Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who will be buying even more US weaponry to prop the military-industrial complex.

'With almost $22 trillion of debt, the US is in no position to attack Iran'

This would explain why Trump made his hurried, unexpected visit to Iraq this week. Significantly, he said : "A lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking", regarding his decision on withdrawing forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

Since his troop pullout plan announced on December 19, there has been serious pushback from senior Pentagon figures, hawkish Republicans and Democrats, and the anti-Trump media. The atmosphere is almost seditious against the president. Trump flying off to Iraq on Christmas night was reportedly his first visit to troops in an overseas combat zone since becoming president two years ago.

What Trump seemed to be doing was reassuring the Pentagon and corporate America that he is not going all soft and dovish. Not at all. He is letting them know that he is aiming for a leaner, meaner US military power, which can save money on the number of foreign bases by using rapid reaction forces out of places like Iraq, as well as by subcontracting operations out to regional clients.

Thus, Trump is not coming clean out of any supposed principle when he cuts back US forces overseas. He is merely applying his knack for screwing down costs and doing things on the cheap as a capitalist tycoon overseeing US militarism.

During past decades when American capitalism was relatively robust, US politicians and media could indulge in the fantasy of their military forces going around the world in large-scale formations to selflessly "defend freedom and democracy."

Today, US capitalism is broke. It simply can't sustain its global military empire. Enter Donald Trump with his "business solutions."

But in doing so, this president, with his cheap utilitarianism and transactional exploitative mindset, lets the cat out of the bag. As he says, the US cannot be the world's policeman. Countries are henceforth going to have to pay for "our protection."

Inadvertently, Trump is showing up US power for what it really is: a global thug running a protection racket.

It's always been the case. Except now it's in your face. Trump is no Smedley Butler, the former Marine general who in the 1930s condemned US militarism as a Mafia operation. This president is stupidly revealing the racket, while still thinking it is something virtuous.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master's graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

dnm1136

Once again, Cunningham has hit the nail on the head. Trump mistakenly conflates fear with respect. In reality, around the world, the US is feared but generally not respected.

My guess is that the same was true about Trump as a businessman, i.e., he was not respected, only feared due to his willingness to pursue his "deals" by any means that "worked" for him, legal or illegal, moral or immoral, seemingly gracious or mean-spirited.

William Smith

Complaining how the US gets no thanks for its foreign intervention. Kind of like a rapist claiming he should be thanked for "pleasuring" his victim. Precisely the same sentiment expressed by those who believe the American Indians should thank the Whites for "civilising" them.

Phoebe S,

"Washington gets no thanks for from the 150-plus countries around the globe that its forces are present in."

That might mean they don't want you there. Just saying.

ProRussiaPole

None of these wars are working out for the US strategically. All they do is sow chaos. They seem to not be gaining anything, and are just preventing others from gaining anything as well.

Ernie For -> ProRussiaPole

i am a huge Putin fan, so is big Don. Please change your source of info Jerome, Trump is one man against Billions of people and dollars in corruption. He has achieved more in the USA in 2 years than all 5 previous parasites together.

Truthbetold69

It could be a change for a better direction. Time will tell. 'If you do what you've always been doing, you'll get what you've always been getting.'

[Nov 03, 2019] How Controlling Syria s Oil Serves Washington s Strategic Objectives by Nauman Sadiq

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Washington's basic purpose in deploying the US forces in oil and natural gas fields of Deir al-Zor governorate is to deny the valuable source of income to its other main rival in the region, Damascus. ..."
Nov 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Nauman Sadiq,

Before the evacuation of 1,000 American troops from northern Syria to western Iraq, the Pentagon had 2,000 US forces in Syria. After the drawdown of US troops at Erdogan's insistence in order for Ankara to mount a ground offensive in northern Syria, the US has still deployed 1,000 troops, mainly in oil-rich eastern Deir al-Zor province and at al-Tanf military base.

Al-Tanf military base is strategically located in southeastern Syria on the border between Syria, Iraq and Jordan, and it straddles on a critically important Damascus-Baghdad highway, which serves as a lifeline for Damascus. Washington has illegally occupied 55-kilometer area around al-Tanf since 2016, and several hundred US Marines have trained several Syrian militant groups there.

It's worth noting that rather than fighting the Islamic State, the purpose of continued presence of the US forces at al-Tanf military base is to address Israel's concerns regarding the expansion of Iran's influence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Regarding the oil- and natural gas-rich Deir al-Zor governorate, it's worth pointing out that Syria used to produce modest quantities of oil for domestic needs before the war – roughly 400,000 barrels per day, which isn't much compared to tens of millions barrels daily oil production in the Gulf states.

Although Donald Trump crowed in a characteristic blunt manner in a tweet after the withdrawal of 1,000 American troops from northern Syria that Washington had deployed forces in eastern Syria where there was oil, the purpose of exercising control over Syria's oil is neither to smuggle oil out of Syria nor to deny the valuable source of revenue to the Islamic State.

There is no denying the fact that the remnants of the Islamic State militants are still found in Syria and Iraq but its emirate has been completely dismantled in the region and its leadership is on the run. So much so that the fugitive caliph of the terrorist organization was killed in the bastion of a rival jihadist outfit, al-Nusra Front in Idlib, hundreds of kilometers away from the Islamic State strongholds in eastern Syria.

Much like the "scorched earth" battle strategy of medieval warlords – as in the case of the Islamic State which early in the year burned crops of local farmers while retreating from its former strongholds in eastern Syria – Washington's basic purpose in deploying the US forces in oil and natural gas fields of Deir al-Zor governorate is to deny the valuable source of income to its other main rival in the region, Damascus.

After the devastation caused by eight years of proxy war, the Syrian government is in dire need of tens of billions dollars international assistance to rebuild the country. Not only is Washington hampering efforts to provide international aid to the hapless country, it is in fact squatting over Syria's own resources with the help of its only ally in the region, the Kurds.

Although Donald Trump claimed credit for expropriating Syria's oil wealth, it bears mentioning that "scorched earth" policy is not a business strategy, it is the institutional logic of the deep state. President Trump is known to be a businessman and at least ostensibly follows a non-interventionist ideology; being a novice in the craft of international diplomacy, however, he has time and again been misled by the Pentagon and Washington's national security establishment.

Regarding Washington's interest in propping up the Gulf's autocrats and fighting their wars in regional conflicts, it bears mentioning that in April 2016, the Saudi foreign minister threatened that the Saudi kingdom would sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets if the US Congress passed a bill that would allow Americans to sue the Saudi government in the United States courts for its role in the September 11, 2001 terror attack – though the bill was eventually passed, Saudi authorities have not been held accountable; even though 15 out of 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

Moreover, $750 billion is only the Saudi investment in the United States, if we add its investment in Western Europe and the investments of UAE, Kuwait and Qatar in the Western economies, the sum total would amount to trillions of dollars of Gulf's investments in North America and Western Europe.

Furthermore, in order to bring home the significance of the Persian Gulf's oil in the energy-starved industrialized world, here are a few stats from the OPEC data: Saudi Arabia has the world's largest proven crude oil reserves of 265 billion barrels and its daily oil production exceeds 10 million barrels; Iran and Iraq, each, has 150 billion barrels reserves and has the capacity to produce 5 million barrels per day, each; while UAE and Kuwait, each, has 100 billion barrels reserves and produces 3 million barrels per day, each; thus, all the littoral states of the Persian Gulf, together, hold 788 billion barrels, more than half of world's 1477 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

No wonder then, 36,000 United States troops have currently been deployed in their numerous military bases and aircraft carriers in the oil-rich Persian Gulf in accordance with the Carter Doctrine of 1980, which states: "Let our position be absolutely clear: an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

Additionally, regarding the Western defense production industry's sales of arms to the Gulf Arab States, a report authored by William Hartung of the US-based Center for International Policy found that the Obama administration had offered Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons, military equipment and training during its eight-year tenure.

Similarly, the top items in Trump's agenda for his maiden visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2017 were: firstly, he threw his weight behind the idea of the Saudi-led "Arab NATO" to counter Iran's influence in the region; and secondly, he announced an unprecedented arms package for Saudi Arabia. The package included between $98 billion and $128 billion in arms sales.

Therefore, keeping the economic dependence of the Western countries on the Gulf Arab States in mind, during the times of global recession when most of manufacturing has been outsourced to China, it is not surprising that when the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia decided to provide training and arms to the Islamic jihadists in the border regions of Turkey and Jordan against the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Obama administration was left with no other choice but to toe the destructive policy of its regional Middle Eastern allies, despite the sectarian nature of the proxy war and its attendant consequences of breeding a new generation of Islamic jihadists who would become a long-term security risk not only to the Middle East but to the Western countries, as well.

Similarly, when King Abdullah's successor King Salman decided, on the whim of the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, to invade Yemen in March 2015, once again the Obama administration had to yield to the dictates of Saudi Arabia and UAE by fully coordinating the Gulf-led military campaign in Yemen not only by providing intelligence, planning and logistical support but also by selling billions of dollars' worth of arms and ammunition to the Gulf Arab States during the conflict.

In this reciprocal relationship, the US provides security to the ruling families of the Gulf Arab states by providing weapons and troops; and in return, the Gulf's petro-sheikhs contribute substantial investments to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars to the Western economies.

Regarding the Pax Americana which is the reality of the contemporary neocolonial order, according to a January 2017 infographic by the New York Times, 210,000 US military personnel were stationed all over the world, including 79,000 in Europe, 45,000 in Japan, 28,500 in South Korea and 36,000 in the Middle East.

Although Donald Trump keeps complaining that NATO must share the cost of deployment of US troops, particularly in Europe where 47,000 American troops are stationed in Germany since the end of the Second World War, 15,000 in Italy and 8,000 in the United Kingdom, fact of the matter is that the cost is already shared between Washington and host countries.

Roughly, European countries pay one-third of the cost for maintaining US military bases in Europe whereas Washington chips in the remaining two-third. In the Far Eastern countries, 75% of the cost for the deployment of American troops is shared by Japan and the remaining 25% by Washington, and in South Korea, 40% cost is shared by the host country and the US contributes the remaining 60%.

Whereas the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar – pay two-third of the cost for maintaining 36,000 US troops in the Persian Gulf where more than half of world's proven oil reserves are located and Washington contributes the remaining one-third.

* * *

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism.


ipsprez , 8 minutes ago link

I am always amazed (and amused) at how much smarter "journalists" are than POTUS. If ONLY Mr. Trump would read more and listen to those who OBVIOUSLY are sooo much smarter!!!! Maybe then he wouldn't be cowed and bullied by Erdogan, Xi, Jung-on, Trudeau (OK so maybe that one was too far fetched) to name a few. Please note the sarcasm. Do I really need to go in to the success after success Mr. Trump's foreign policy has enjoyed? Come on Man.

OLD-Pipe , 19 minutes ago link

What a load of BOLOCKS...The ONLY, I mean The Real and True Reason for American Armored presence is one thing,,,,,,,Ready for IT ? ? ? To Steal as much OIL as Possible, AND convert the Booty into Currency, Diamonds or some other intrinsically valuable commodity, Millions of Dollars at a Time......17 Years of Shadows and Ghost Trucks and Tankers Loading and Off-Loading the Black Gold...this is what its all about......M-O-N-E-Y....... Say It With Me.... Mon-nee, Money Money Mo_on_ne_e_ey, ......

Blue Steel 309 , 5 minutes ago link

This is about Israel, not oil.

ombon , 58 minutes ago link

From the sale of US oil in Syria receive 30 million. dollars per month. Image losses are immeasurably greater. The United States put the United States as a robbery bandit. This is American democracy. The longer the troops are in Syria, the more countries will switch to settlements in national currencies.

Pandelis , 28 minutes ago link

yeah well these are mafia guys...

uhland62 , 50 minutes ago link

"Our interests", "strategic interests" is always about money, just a euphemism so it doesn't look as greedy as it is. Another euphemism is "security' ,meaning war preparations.

BobEore , 1 hour ago link

...The military power of the USA put directly in the service of "the original TM" PIRATE STATE. U are the man Norm! But wait... now things get a little hazy... in the classic... 'alt0media fake storyline' fashion!

"President Trump is known to be a businessman and at least ostensibly follows a non-interventionist ideology; being a novice in the craft of international diplomacy, however, he has time and again been misled by the Pentagon and Washington's national security establishment."

Awww! Poor "DUmb as Rocks Donnie" done been fooled agin!

...In the USA... the military men are stirring at last... having been made all too aware that their putative 'boss' has been operating on behalf of foreign powers ever since being [s]elected, that the State Dept of the once Great Republic has been in active cahoots with the jihadis ...

and that those who were sent over there to fight against the headchoppers discovered that the only straight shooters in the whole mess turned out to be the Kurds who AGENT FRIMpf THREW UNDER THE BUS ON INSTRUCTIONS FROM JIHADI HQ!

... ... ...

[Jul 17, 2019] Oil Is Driving the Iran Crisis by Michael T. Klare

Highly recommended!
Washington's aggression is part of a decades-long quest to control the spigot in the Persian Gulf.
Notable quotes:
"... As it happens, the world economy -- of which the United States is the leading beneficiary (despite President Trump's self-destructive trade wars) -- relies on an uninterrupted flow of oil from the Persian Gulf to keep energy prices low. By continuing to serve as the principal overseer of that flow, Washington enjoys striking geopolitical advantages that its foreign policy elites would no more abandon than they would their country's nuclear supremacy. ..."
"... True, Washington fought wars in the Middle East when the American economy was still deeply vulnerable to any disruption in the flow of imported oil. In 1990, this was the key reason President George H.W. Bush gave for his decision to evict Iraqi troops from Kuwait after Saddam Hussein's invasion of that land. "Our country now imports nearly half the oil it consumes and could face a major threat to its economic independence," he told a nationwide TV audience. ..."
"... All told, 33.6 percent of world energy consumption last year was made up of oil, 27.2 percent of coal (itself a global disgrace), 23.9 percent of natural gas, 6.8 percent of hydro-electricity, 4.4 percent of nuclear power, and a mere 4 percent of renewables. ..."
"... Concluding that the increased demand for oil in Asia, in particular, will outweigh reduced demand elsewhere, the IEA calculated in its 2017 World Energy Outlook that oil will remain the world's dominant source of energy in 2040, accounting for an estimated 27.5 percent of total global energy consumption. That will indeed be a smaller share than in 2018, but because global energy consumption as a whole is expected to grow substantially during those decades, net oil production could still rise -- from an estimated 100 million barrels a day in 2018 to about 105 million barrels in 2040. ..."
"... More dramatic yet is the growing centrality of the Asia-Pacific region to the global flow of petroleum. In 2000, that region accounted for only 28 percent of world consumption; in 2040, its share is expected to stand at 44 percent, thanks to the growth of China, India, and other Asian countries, whose newly affluent consumers are already buying cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other oil-powered products. ..."
"... To lend muscle to what would soon be dubbed the "Carter Doctrine," the president created a new US military organization, the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF), and obtained basing facilities for it in the Gulf region. Ronald Reagan, who succeeded Carter as president in 1981, made the RDJTF into a full-scale "geographic combatant command," dubbed Central Command, or CENTCOM, which continues to be tasked with ensuring American access to the Gulf today (as well as overseeing the country's never-ending wars in the Greater Middle East). ..."
"... When ordering US forces into combat in the Gulf, American presidents have always insisted that they were acting in the interests of the entire West. In advocating for the "reflagging" mission of 1987, for instance, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger argued (as he would later recall in his memoir Fighting for Peace ), "The main thing was for us to protect the right of innocent, nonbelligerent and extremely important commerce to move freely in international open waters -- and, by our offering protection, to avoid conceding the mission to the Soviets." Though rarely so openly acknowledged, the same principle has undergirded Washington's strategy in the region ever since: The United States alone must be the ultimate guarantor of unimpeded oil commerce in the Persian Gulf. ..."
"... Look closely and you can find this principle lurking in every fundamental statement of US policy related to that region and among the Washington elite more generally. My own personal favorite, when it comes to pithiness, is a sentence in a report on the geopolitics of energy issued in 2000 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies , a Washington-based think tank well-populated with former government officials (several of whom contributed to the report): "As the world's only superpower, [the United States] must accept its special responsibilities for preserving access to [the] worldwide energy supply." You can't get much more explicit than that. ..."
"... As things stand today, any Iranian move in the Strait of Hormuz that can be portrayed as a threat to the "free flow of commerce" (that is, the oil trade) represents the most likely trigger for direct US military action. Yes, Tehran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and its support for radical Shiite movements throughout the Middle East will be cited as evidence of its leadership's malevolence, but its true threat will be to American dominance of the oil lanes, a danger Washington will treat as the offense of all offenses to be overcome at any cost. ..."
Jan 11, 2019 | thenation.com

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com .

It's always the oil. While President Trump was hobnobbing with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G-20 summit in Japan, brushing off a recent UN report about the prince's role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Asia and the Middle East, pleading with foreign leaders to support "Sentinel." The aim of that administration plan: to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf.

Both Trump and Pompeo insisted that their efforts were driven by concern over Iranian misbehavior in the region and the need to ensure the safety of maritime commerce. Neither, however, mentioned one inconvenient three-letter word -- O-I-L -- that lay behind their Iranian maneuvering (as it has impelled every other American incursion in the Middle East since World War II).

Now, it's true that the United States no longer relies on imported petroleum for a large share of its energy needs. Thanks to the fracking revolution , the country now gets the bulk of its oil -- approximately 75 percent -- from domestic sources. (In 2008, that share had been closer to 35 percent.) Key allies in NATO and rivals like China, however, continue to depend on Middle Eastern oil for a significant proportion of their energy needs.

As it happens, the world economy -- of which the United States is the leading beneficiary (despite President Trump's self-destructive trade wars) -- relies on an uninterrupted flow of oil from the Persian Gulf to keep energy prices low. By continuing to serve as the principal overseer of that flow, Washington enjoys striking geopolitical advantages that its foreign policy elites would no more abandon than they would their country's nuclear supremacy.

This logic was spelled out clearly by President Barack Obama in a September 2013 address to the UN General Assembly in which he declared that "the United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests" in the Middle East. He then pointed out that, while the United States was steadily reducing its reliance on imported oil, "the world still depends on the region's energy supply and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy."

Accordingly, he concluded, "We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world." To some Americans, that dictum -- and its continued embrace by President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo -- may seem anachronistic. True, Washington fought wars in the Middle East when the American economy was still deeply vulnerable to any disruption in the flow of imported oil. In 1990, this was the key reason President George H.W. Bush gave for his decision to evict Iraqi troops from Kuwait after Saddam Hussein's invasion of that land. "Our country now imports nearly half the oil it consumes and could face a major threat to its economic independence," he told a nationwide TV audience.

But talk of oil soon disappeared from his comments about what became Washington's first (but hardly last) Gulf War after his statement provoked widespread public outrage . ("No Blood for Oil" became a widely used protest sign then.) His son, the second President Bush, never even mentioned that three-letter word when announcing his 2003 invasion of Iraq. Yet, as Obama's UN speech made clear, oil remained, and still remains, at the center of US foreign policy. A quick review of global energy trends helps explain why this has continued to be so.

THE WORLD'S UNDIMINISHED RELIANCE ON PETROLEUM

Despite all that's been said about climate change and oil's role in causing it -- and about the enormous progress being made in bringing solar and wind power online -- we remain trapped in a remarkably oil-dependent world. To grasp this reality, all you have to do is read the most recent edition of oil giant BP's "Statistical Review of World Energy," published this June. In 2018, according to that report, oil still accounted for by far the largest share of world energy consumption, as it has every year for decades. All told, 33.6 percent of world energy consumption last year was made up of oil, 27.2 percent of coal (itself a global disgrace), 23.9 percent of natural gas, 6.8 percent of hydro-electricity, 4.4 percent of nuclear power, and a mere 4 percent of renewables.

Most energy analysts believe that the global reliance on petroleum as a share of world energy use will decline in the coming decades, as more governments impose restrictions on carbon emissions and as consumers, especially in the developed world, switch from oil-powered to electric vehicles. But such declines are unlikely to prevail in every region of the globe and total oil consumption may not even decline. According to projections from the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its " New Policies Scenario " (which assumes significant but not drastic government efforts to curb carbon emissions globally), Asia, Africa, and the Middle East are likely to experience a substantially increased demand for petroleum in the years to come, which, grimly enough, means global oil consumption will continue to rise.

Concluding that the increased demand for oil in Asia, in particular, will outweigh reduced demand elsewhere, the IEA calculated in its 2017 World Energy Outlook that oil will remain the world's dominant source of energy in 2040, accounting for an estimated 27.5 percent of total global energy consumption. That will indeed be a smaller share than in 2018, but because global energy consumption as a whole is expected to grow substantially during those decades, net oil production could still rise -- from an estimated 100 million barrels a day in 2018 to about 105 million barrels in 2040.

Of course, no one, including the IEA's experts, can be sure how future extreme manifestations of global warming like the severe heat waves recently tormenting Europe and South Asia could change such projections. It's possible that growing public outrage could lead to far tougher restrictions on carbon emissions between now and 2040. Unexpected developments in the field of alternative energy production could also play a role in changing those projections. In other words, oil's continuing dominance could still be curbed in ways that are now unpredictable.

In the meantime, from a geopolitical perspective, a profound shift is taking place in the worldwide demand for petroleum. In 2000, according to the IEA, older industrialized nations -- most of them members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) -- accounted for about two-thirds of global oil consumption; only about a third went to countries in the developing world. By 2040, the IEA's experts believe that ratio will be reversed, with the OECD consuming about one-third of the world's oil and non-OECD nations the rest.

More dramatic yet is the growing centrality of the Asia-Pacific region to the global flow of petroleum. In 2000, that region accounted for only 28 percent of world consumption; in 2040, its share is expected to stand at 44 percent, thanks to the growth of China, India, and other Asian countries, whose newly affluent consumers are already buying cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other oil-powered products.

Where will Asia get its oil? Among energy experts, there is little doubt on this matter. Lacking significant reserves of their own, the major Asian consumers will turn to the one place with sufficient capacity to satisfy their rising needs: the Persian Gulf. According to BP, in 2018, Japan already obtained 87 percent of its oil imports from the Middle East, India 64 percent, and China 44 percent. Most analysts assume these percentages will only grow in the years to come, as production in other areas declines.

This will, in turn, lend even greater strategic importance to the Persian Gulf region, which now possesses more than 60 percent of the world's untapped petroleum reserves, and to the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow passageway through which approximately one-third of the world's seaborne oil passes daily. Bordered by Iran, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, the Strait is perhaps the most significant -- and contested -- geostrategic location on the planet today.

CONTROLLING THE SPIGOT

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the same year that militant Shiite fundamentalists overthrew the US-backed Shah of Iran, US policy-makers concluded that America's access to Gulf oil supplies was at risk and a US military presence was needed to guarantee such access. As President Jimmy Carter would say in his State of the Union Address on January 23, 1980,

The region which is now threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan is of great strategic importance: It contains more than two thirds of the world's exportable oil. The Soviet effort to dominate Afghanistan has brought Soviet military forces to within 300 miles of the Indian Ocean and close to the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway through which most of the world's oil must flow. Let our position be absolutely clear: an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.

To lend muscle to what would soon be dubbed the "Carter Doctrine," the president created a new US military organization, the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF), and obtained basing facilities for it in the Gulf region. Ronald Reagan, who succeeded Carter as president in 1981, made the RDJTF into a full-scale "geographic combatant command," dubbed Central Command, or CENTCOM, which continues to be tasked with ensuring American access to the Gulf today (as well as overseeing the country's never-ending wars in the Greater Middle East).

Reagan was the first president to activate the Carter Doctrine in 1987 when he ordered Navy warships to escort Kuwaiti tankers, " reflagged " with the stars and stripes, as they traveled through the Strait of Hormuz. From time to time, such vessels had been coming under fire from Iranian gunboats, part of an ongoing " Tanker War ," itself part of the Iran-Iraq War of those years. The Iranian attacks on those tankers were meant to punish Sunni Arab countries for backing Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein in that conflict. The American response, dubbed Operation Earnest Will , offered an early model of what Secretary of State Pompeo is seeking to establish today with his Sentinel program.

Operation Earnest Will was followed two years later by a massive implementation of the Carter Doctrine, President Bush's 1990 decision to push Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. Although he spoke of the need to protect US access to Persian Gulf oil fields, it was evident that ensuring a safe flow of oil imports wasn't the only motive for such military involvement. Equally important then (and far more so now): the geopolitical advantage controlling the world's major oil spigot gave Washington.

When ordering US forces into combat in the Gulf, American presidents have always insisted that they were acting in the interests of the entire West. In advocating for the "reflagging" mission of 1987, for instance, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger argued (as he would later recall in his memoir Fighting for Peace ), "The main thing was for us to protect the right of innocent, nonbelligerent and extremely important commerce to move freely in international open waters -- and, by our offering protection, to avoid conceding the mission to the Soviets." Though rarely so openly acknowledged, the same principle has undergirded Washington's strategy in the region ever since: The United States alone must be the ultimate guarantor of unimpeded oil commerce in the Persian Gulf.

Look closely and you can find this principle lurking in every fundamental statement of US policy related to that region and among the Washington elite more generally. My own personal favorite, when it comes to pithiness, is a sentence in a report on the geopolitics of energy issued in 2000 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies , a Washington-based think tank well-populated with former government officials (several of whom contributed to the report): "As the world's only superpower, [the United States] must accept its special responsibilities for preserving access to [the] worldwide energy supply." You can't get much more explicit than that.

Of course, along with this "special responsibility" comes a geopolitical advantage: By providing this service, the United States cements its status as the world's sole superpower and places every other oil-importing nation -- and the world at large -- in a condition of dependence on its continued performance of this vital function.

Originally, the key dependents in this strategic equation were Europe and Japan, which, in return for assured access to Middle Eastern oil, were expected to subordinate themselves to Washington. Remember, for example, how they helped pay for Bush the elder's Iraq War (dubbed Operation Desert Storm). Today, however, many of those countries, deeply concerned with the effects of climate change, are seeking to lessen oil's role in their national fuel mixes. As a result, in 2019, the countries potentially most at the mercy of Washington when it comes to access to Gulf oil are economically fast-expanding China and India, whose oil needs are only likely to grow. That, in turn, will further enhance the geopolitical advantage Washington enjoyed as long as it remains the principal guardian of the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. How it may seek to exploit this advantage remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that all parties involved, including the Chinese, are well aware of this asymmetric equation, which could give the phrase "trade war" a far deeper and more ominous meaning.

THE IRANIAN CHALLENGE AND THE SPECTER OF WAR

From Washington's perspective, the principal challenger to America's privileged status in the Gulf is Iran. By reason of geography, that country possesses a potentially commanding position along the northern Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, as the Reagan administration learned in 1987–88 when it threatened American oil dominance there. About this reality President Reagan couldn't have been clearer. "Mark this point well: The use of the sea lanes of the Persian Gulf will not be dictated by the Iranians," he declared in 1987 -- and Washington's approach to the situation has never changed.

In more recent times, in response to US and Israeli threats to bomb their nuclear facilities or, as the Trump administration has done, impose economic sanctions on their country, the Iranians have threatened on numerous occasions to block the Strait of Hormuz to oil traffic, squeeze global energy supplies, and precipitate an international crisis. In 2011, for example, Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi warned that should the West impose sanctions on Iranian oil, "not even one drop of oil can flow through the Strait of Hormuz." In response, US officials have vowed ever since to let no such thing happen, just as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta did in response to Rahimi at that time. "We have made very clear," he said , "that the United States will not tolerate blocking of the Strait of Hormuz." That, he added, was a "red line for us."

It remains so today. Hence, the present ongoing crisis in the Gulf, with fierce US sanctions on Iranian oil sales and threatening Iranian gestures toward the regional oil flow in response. "We will make the enemy understand that either everyone can use the Strait of Hormuz or no one," said Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, in July 2018. And attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz on June 13 could conceivably have been an expression of just that policy, if -- as claimed by the United States -- they were indeed carried out by members of the Revolutionary Guards. Any future attacks are only likely to spur US military action against Iran in accordance with the Carter Doctrine. As Pentagon spokesperson Bill Urban put it in response to Jafari's statement, "We stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows."

As things stand today, any Iranian move in the Strait of Hormuz that can be portrayed as a threat to the "free flow of commerce" (that is, the oil trade) represents the most likely trigger for direct US military action. Yes, Tehran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and its support for radical Shiite movements throughout the Middle East will be cited as evidence of its leadership's malevolence, but its true threat will be to American dominance of the oil lanes, a danger Washington will treat as the offense of all offenses to be overcome at any cost.

If the United States goes to war with Iran, you are unlikely to hear the word "oil" uttered by top Trump administration officials, but make no mistake: That three-letter word lies at the root of the present crisis, not to speak of the world's long-term fate.

Michael T. Klare The Nation 's defense correspondent, is professor emeritus of peace and world-security studies at Hampshire College and senior visiting fellow at the Arms Control Association in Washington, DC. His newest book, All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon's Perspective on Climate Change , will be published this fall.

[Jul 06, 2019] Why is Iran such a high priority for US elite? Because Iran successfully booted out the CIA and CIA-imposed regime out of their country and successfully remained independent since then

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... There is at present no other powerful leadership group that is so adamantly unwilling to compromise with the U.S. The potential loss of U.S. control over Middle East oil being at the root of it. ..."
"... The Saudis et al have it, and Israel is a forward operating base for protecting it. The Saudi royal family rightly fear an Iran-inspired popular uprising against them and Israel fears the loss of lands granted to them by their invisible friend as related in a popular fairy tale. ..."
"... Iran is a relatively large country with a semi independent foreign policy and banking,/ financial system, and they want to control their own resources independent of western dictates about opening up their system to the neo liberal system. ..."
"... Because Iran successfully booted out the CIA and CIA-imposed regime out of their country and successfully remained independent since then. ..."
"... Iran was after WW2 a client state of both the US and the UK, the latter installing the Shah as a ruler. Iran was important for the US and the UK through its oil resources and its border with the USSR. ..."
"... Iran is still a major player when it comes to oil, but contrary to the Shah years quite hostile to the aspirations of Israel to become the “western” power in the middle east. ..."
"... The enmity clearest showed up when Israel and the USA supplied Saddam Hussein with intelligence and Germany and France with the capability to produce chemical weapons during the Iraq/Iran war. ..."
"... America essentially followed the old British approach towards Iran: keep it semi-alive so that it can put up enough resistance to the USSR until America’s more important and intrinsic interests, such as those in the Persian Gulf, were safeguarded. But Washington never wanted to turn Iran into a strong ally that one day might be capable of challenging America. ..."
"... By changing the international balance of power and removing the risk of Soviet penetration, the USSR’s fall eliminated Iran’s value to the United States even as a buffer state. In fact, the fundamental shift to a US approach based on the principle of no compromise, can be traced to 1987, when Gorbachev’s reforms began. ..."
"... Since then, the United States has refused to accept any solution to the Iran problem that has not involved the country’s absolute capitulation. ..."
"... For instance, in 2003, Iran offered to put all the outstanding issues between the two countries on the table for negotiations, but the US refused. ..."
"... Because Iran refuses to be a second-class citizen in its own neighborhood. Theirs is an ancient culture whose legacy to the world is enormous, their history is the stuff of legend, and they are the geopolitical power player in the region, not to mention the most powerful Shia Muslim nation. ..."
Jul 06, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Joe Well, July 5, 2019 at 11:47 am

>>US President Donald Trump’s ruthless use of the centrality of his country’s financial system and the dollar to force economic partners to abide by his unilateral sanctions on Iran has forced the world to recognise the political price of asymmetric economic interdependence.

Why is Iran such a high priority for so many US elites?

Lee, July 5, 2019 at 12:28 pm

Just spit-balling here: The Iranian leadership, with good cause, wants to diminish or eliminate the U.S. grip on the region and this subversive, potentially destabilizing sentiment resonates among the citizenry of various Middle Eastern countries.

There is at present no other powerful leadership group that is so adamantly unwilling to compromise with the U.S. The potential loss of U.S. control over Middle East oil being at the root of it.

The Saudis et al have it, and Israel is a forward operating base for protecting it. The Saudi royal family rightly fear an Iran-inspired popular uprising against them and Israel fears the loss of lands granted to them by their invisible friend as related in a popular fairy tale.

This is hardly definitive and I’m sure others could elaborate.

workingclasshero, July 5, 2019 at 12:53 pm

Iran is a relatively large country with a semi independent foreign policy and banking,/ financial system, and they want to control their own resources independent of western dictates about opening up their system to the neo liberal system.

I’m sure this is obvious to most people at this kind of web site and is overly simplistic but i sense sometimes some people are shocked about the conflict with Iran and don’t get that basic dynamic of this conflict.

Underdog Revolutions, July 5, 2019 at 1:34 pm

Because Iran successfully booted out the CIA and CIA-imposed regime out of their country and successfully remained independent since then.

US elites never forgave them for it. Same reason they hate and punish Cuba, another country that poses no threat to anyone but its own citizens.

Peter Moritz, July 5, 2019 at 1:46 pm

Why is Iran such a high priority for so many US elites?

Iran was after WW2 a client state of both the US and the UK, the latter installing the Shah as a ruler. Iran was important for the US and the UK through its oil resources and its border with the USSR.

Mossadegh, by nationalising the oil supply until, played against the status and he was overthrown in a MI/CIA sponsored coup in 1953, leaving the Shah as the sole ruler in Iran till the revolution of 1979 when Iran came under theocratic rule and basically diminished the power the US had throughout the years of the Shah’s rule.

The US was also shown to be quite powerless -- short of an invasion -- to deal with the hostage crisis in the US embassy, which was finally after more than a year resolved with the help of Canada.

Iran is still a major player when it comes to oil, but contrary to the Shah years quite hostile to the aspirations of Israel to become the “western” power in the middle east.

The enmity clearest showed up when Israel and the USA supplied Saddam Hussein with intelligence and Germany and France with the capability to produce chemical weapons during the Iraq/Iran war.

Here is a more in-depth look:

https://lobelog.com/the-real-causes-of-americas-troubled-relations-with-iran/

This U.S. approach towards Iran has been the result of its lack of an intrinsic interest in the country. The same was true of Britain. The late Sir Denis Right, the UK’s ambassador to Iran in the 1960s, put it best by writing that Britain never considered Iran of sufficient value to colonize it. But it found Iran useful as a buffer against the competing great power, the Russian Empire. Thus, British policy towards Iran was to keep it moribund but not dead, at least not as long as the Russian threat persisted.

America essentially followed the old British approach towards Iran: keep it semi-alive so that it can put up enough resistance to the USSR until America’s more important and intrinsic interests, such as those in the Persian Gulf, were safeguarded. But Washington never wanted to turn Iran into a strong ally that one day might be capable of challenging America.

By changing the international balance of power and removing the risk of Soviet penetration, the USSR’s fall eliminated Iran’s value to the United States even as a buffer state. In fact, the fundamental shift to a US approach based on the principle of no compromise, can be traced to 1987, when Gorbachev’s reforms began.

Since then, the United States has refused to accept any solution to the Iran problem that has not involved the country’s absolute capitulation.

For instance, in 2003, Iran offered to put all the outstanding issues between the two countries on the table for negotiations, but the US refused.

ChiGal in Carolina, July 5, 2019 at 6:38 pm

Because Iran refuses to be a second-class citizen in its own neighborhood. Theirs is an ancient culture whose legacy to the world is enormous, their history is the stuff of legend, and they are the geopolitical power player in the region, not to mention the most powerful Shia Muslim nation.

[Apr 16, 2019] The incompetent, the corrupt, the treacherous -- not just walking free, but with reputations intact, fat bank balances, and flourishing careers. Now they re angling for war with Iran.

Highly recommended!
Apr 15, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Return of the Just April 14, 2019 at 10:46 am

You're right. I see people like Robert Kagan's opinions being respectfully asked on foreign affairs, John Bolton and Elliott Abrams being hired to direct our foreign policy.

The incompetent, the corrupt, the treacherous -- not just walking free, but with reputations intact, fat bank balances, and flourishing careers. Now they're angling for war with Iran.

It's preposterous and sickening. And it can't be allowed to stand, so you can't just stand off and say you're "wrecked". Keep fighting, as you're doing. I will fight it until I can't fight anymore.

Ken Zaretzke , says: April 14, 2019 at 3:38 pm
Fact-bedeviled JohnT: “McCain was a problem for this nation? Sweet Jesus! There quite simply is no rational adult on the planet who buys that nonsense.”

McCain had close ties to the military-industrial complex. He was a backer of post-Cold War NATO. He was a neoconservative darling. He never heard of a dictator that he didn’t want to depose with boots on the ground, with the possible exception of various Saudi dictators (the oil-weaponry-torture nexus). He promoted pseudo-accountability of government in campaign finance but blocked accountability for the Pentagon and State Department when he co-chaired the United States Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs with John Kerry.

And, perhaps partly because of the head trauma and/or emotional wounds he suffered at the hands of Chinese-backed Commies, it’s plausible to think he was regarded by the willy-nilly plotters of the deep state as a manipulable, and thus useful, conduit of domestic subversion via the bogus Steele dossier.

Unfortunately, the episode that most defines McCain’s life is the very last one–his being a pawn of M-16 in the the deep state’s years-long attempt to derail the presidency of Donald Trump.

Joe Dokes , says: April 14, 2019 at 11:55 pm
Measuring success means determining goals. The goals of most wars is to enrich the people in charge. So, by this metric, the war was a success. The rest of it is just props and propaganda.
Andrew Stergiou , says: April 15, 2019 at 5:11 am
“Pyrrhic Victory” look it up the Roman Empire Won but lost if the US is invaded and the government does not defend it I would like to start my own defense: But the knee jerk politics that stirs America’s cannon fodder citizens is a painful reminder of a history of jingoist lies where at times some left and right agree at least for a short moment before the rich and powerful push their weight to have their way.

If All politics is relative Right wingers are the the left of what? Nuclear destruction? or Slavery?

Peter Smith , says: April 15, 2019 at 5:13 am
My goodness! I am also a veteran, but of the Vietnam war, and my father was a career officer from 1939-1961 as a paratrooper first, and later as an intelligence officer. He argued vigorously against our Vietnam involvement, and was cashiered for his intellectual honesty. A combat veteran’s views are meaningless when the political winds are blowing.

Simply put, we have killed thousands of our kids in service of the colonial empires left to us by the British and the French after WWII. More practice at incompetent strategies and tactics does not make us more competent–it merely extends the blunders and pain; viz the French for two CENTURIES against the Britsh during the battles over Normandy while the Planagenet kings worked to hold their viking-won inheritance.

At least then, kings risked their own lives. Generals fight because the LIKE it…a lot. Prior failures are only practice to the, regardless of the cost in lives of the kids we tried to raise well, and who were slaughtered for no gain.

We don’t need the empire, and we certainly shouldn’t fight for the corrupt businessmen who have profited from the never-ending conflicts. Let’s spend those trillions at home, so long as we also police our government to keep both Democrat and Republican politicians from feathering their own nests. Term limits and prosecutions will help us, but only if we are vigilant. Wars distract our attention while corruption is rampant at home.

Fayez Abedaziz , says: April 12, 2019 at 12:25 am
Thanks, I appreciate this article.
I’ll make two points, my own opinion:
it’s the same story as Vietnam, the bull about how the politicians or anti-war demonstrators tied the military ‘hand,’ blah, blah.
Nonsense. Invading a nation and slaughtering people in their towns, houses…gee…what’s wrong with that, eh?
The average American has a primitive mind when it comes to such matters.
Second point I have, is that both Bushes, Clinton, Obama, Hillary and Trump should be dragged to a world court, given a fair trial and locked up for life with hard labor… oh, and Cheney too,for all those families, in half a dozen nations, especially the children overseas that suffered/died from these creeps.
And, the families of dead or maimed American troops should be apologized to and compensation paid by several million dollars to each.
The people I named above make me sick, because I have feelings and a conscience. Can you dig?
kingdomofgodflag.info , says: April 12, 2019 at 8:19 am
Though there is a worldly justification for killing to obtain or maintain freedoms, there is no Christian justification for it. Which suggests that Christians who die while doing it, die in vain.

America’s wars are prosecuted by a military that includes Christians. They seldom question the killing their country orders them to do, as though the will of the government is that of the will of God. Is that a safe assumption for them to make? German Christian soldiers made that assumption regarding their government in 1939. Who was there to tell them otherwise? The Church failed, including the chaplains. (The Southern Baptist Convention declared the invasion of Iraq a just war in 2003.) These wars need to be assessed by Just War criteria. Christian soldiers need to know when to exercise selective conscientious objection, for it is better to go to prison than to kill without God’s approval. If Just War theory is irrelevant, the default response is Christian Pacifism.

Mark Thomason , says: April 12, 2019 at 10:43 am
“has gone un-investigated, unheard of, or unpunished.”

The one guy who did tell us has just been arrested for doing exactly that.

The arrest is cheered by those who fantasize about Russiagate, but it is expressly FOR telling us about these things.

Stephen J. , says: April 12, 2019 at 10:51 am
“Iraq Wrecked” a lot of innocent people. Millions are dead, cities reduced to rubble, homes and businesses destroyed and it was all a damned lie. And the perpetrators are Free.
Now there is sectarian violence too, where once there was a semblance of harmony amongst various denominations. See article link below.

“Are The Christians Slaughtered in The Middle East Victims of the Actions of Western War Criminals and Their Terrorist Supporting NATO ‘Allies’”?

http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2017/04/are-christians-slaughtered-in-middle.html

the the , says: April 12, 2019 at 11:53 am
We are a globalist open borders and mass immigration nation. We stand for nothing. To serve in this nation’s military is very stupid. You aren’t defending anything. You are just a tool of globalism. Again, we don’t secure our borders. That’s a very big give away to what’s going on.
the the , says: April 12, 2019 at 11:57 am
If our nation’s military really was an American military concerned with our security we would have secured our border after 9/11, reduced all immigration, deported ALL muslims, and that’s it. Just secure the borders and expel Muslims! That’s all we needed to do.

Instead we killed so many people and imported many many more Muslims! And we call this compassion. Its insane.

Kouros , says: April 12, 2019 at 12:02 pm
Maybe if Talibans get back in power they will destroy the opium. You know, like they did when they were first in power…. It seems that wherever Americans get involved, drugs follow…
JohnT , says: April 12, 2019 at 2:03 pm
“Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” In Eisenhower’s televised farewell address January 17, 1961.
Rational thought would lead one to believe such words from a fellow with his credentials would have had a useful effect. But it didn’t. In point of fact, in the likes of Eric Prince and his supporters the notion of war as a profit center is quite literally a family affair.
Ken Zaretzke , says: April 12, 2019 at 2:10 pm
The military-industrial complex couldn’t accomplish this all by its lonesome self. The deep state was doing its thing. The two things overlap but aren’t the same. The deep state is not only or mainly about business profits, but about power. Power in the world means empire, which requires a military-industrial complex but is not reducible to it.

We now have a rare opportunity to unveil the workings of the deep state, but it will require a special counsel, and a lengthy written report, on the doings in the 2016 election of the FBI (Comey, Strzok, et. al.), and collaterally the CIA and DIA (Brennan and Clapper). Also the British government (M-16), John McCain, and maybe Bush and Obama judges on the FISA courts.

[Apr 07, 2019] There is no doubt the tight rock structures which are much more difficult to extract oil from than sandstone reservoir can be stimulated in different ways with good result. But that costs a lot of money.

Highly recommended!
Edited for clatiry
Notable quotes:
"... Better propant , longer laterals , some improvement of fluid , improved rigs and pads enable to drill several laterals simultaneously have made the improvement they call shale revolution. ..."
Apr 07, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Freddy says: 04/06/2019 at 5:26 pm

There is no doubt the tight rock structures which are much more difficult to extract oil from than sandstone reservoir can be stimulated in different ways with good result. But that costs a lot of money.

As I read fracking uses a very high hydraulic pressure open up the tight rock layers and until a few years ago the oil flow dropped at a very early stage because the overlaying weight and beacuse the oil flow carries with with itself particles that block the fraction.

Later it followed a propant research that was done before but again this gave improvement and could hold the fracs open for longer.

Than there was research on chemical injected that should reduce friction between oil flow and rock. There is also lots of other factores like gazes, metal that in certain pressures, temperatures might react and create pollutant as happened lately when oil cargo was sent back from Asia.

Better propant , longer laterals , some improvement of fluid , improved rigs and pads enable to drill several laterals simultaneously have made the improvement they call shale revolution.

Still very few are able to earn money to pay dividend, loan, interest and finance expansion with WTI 60 USD.

Now number of rigs increasing again, but why when there are so many DUCS? Probably because investors tells the business shall be cash neutral. Could it be the DUCS are so closely spaced that using along with the existing wells might be not profitable because of interference with nearby wells.

[Mar 30, 2019] The US desperately needs Venezuelan oil

Highly recommended!
Mar 30, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

dh-mtl , Mar 30, 2019 5:00:04 PM | link

The U.S. desperately needs Venezuelan oil.

They lost control of Saudi Arabia, after trying to take down MBS and then betraying him by unexpectedly allowing waivers on Iranian oil in November.

The U.S. cannot take down Iran without Venezuelan oil. What is worse, right now they don't have access to enough heavy oil to meet their own needs.

Controlling the world oil trade is central to Trump's strategy for the U.S. to continue its empire. Without Venezuelan oil, the U.S. is a bit player in the energy markets, and will remain so.

Having Russia block the U.S. in Venezuela adds insult to injury. After Crimea and Syria, now Venezuela, Russia exposes the U.S. as a loud mouthed-bully without the capacity to back up its threats, a 'toothless tiger', an 'emperor without clothes'.

If the U.S. cannot dislodge Russia from Venezuela, its days as 'global hegemon' are finished. For this reason the U.S. will continue escalating the situation with ever-riskier actions, until it succeeds or breaks.

In the same manor, if Russia backs off, its resistance to the U.S. is finished. And the U.S. will eventually move to destroy Russia, like it has been actively trying to do for the past 30 years. Russia cannot and will not back off.

Venezuela thus becomes the stage where the final act in the clash of empires plays out. Will the world become a multi-polar world, in which the U.S. becomes a relatively isolated and insignificant pole? Or will the world become more fully dominated by a brutal, erratic hegemon?

All options are on the table. For both sides!

[Mar 16, 2019] (Global) peak oil comes in phases. As Art Berman said, shale oil is oil's retirement party.

Highly recommended!
Mar 16, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Matt Mushalik x Ignored says: 03/14/2019 at 5:06 pm

(Global) peak oil comes in phases. The 1st phase 2005-2008 caused the 2008 oil price shock and the financial crisis. Money printing was used to keep the system afloat and finance the US shale oil boom. The resulting high debt levels are now limiting economic activities. A lot of the problems we see in the world come from this chain of events.

I warned the Australian Prime Minister John Howard in 2004/05 but he did not want to listen.

Howard's Energy Policy Failure 2004
http://crudeoilpeak.info/howards-energy-policy-failure-2004

As a result, Australia has built a lot of additional oil dependent infrastructure. Even Sydney's new metro projects don't replace car traffic:

11/3/2019
Sydney's Immigration Metros (Part 1)
http://crudeoilpeak.info/sydneys-immigration-metros-part-1

Carlos Diaz x Ignored says: 03/14/2019 at 7:26 pm
As Art Berman said, shale oil is oil's retirement party.

When we are down to fracturing rocks and drilling tens of thousands of horizontal wells that produce tiny streams of oil that decline by 70% in just three years we should instinctively know that we are reaching the bottom of the proverbial barrel, literally. Amazing how most people think just the opposite .

[Feb 15, 2019] Consumption of liquid fuels grows over the next decade, before broadly plateauing in the 2030s

Highly recommended!
How they can claim that US tight oil will be produced in larger quantities if they predict stagnant oil prices and at those price the US production is unprofitable.
So from now on it's all condensate, and very little heavy and medium oil.
I like BP propaganda: "The abundance of oil resources, and risk that large quantities of recoverable oil will never be extracted, may prompt low-cost producers to use their comparative advantage to expand their market share in order to help ensure their resources are produced." That's not only stupid but also gives up the intent...
Notable quotes:
"... In the ET scenario, global demand for liquid fuels – crude and condensates, natural gas liquids (NGLs), and other liquids – increases by 10 Mb/d, plateauing around 108 Mb/d in the 2030s. ..."
"... All of the demand growth comes from developing economies, driven by the burgeoning middle class in developing Asian economies. Consumption of liquid fuels within the OECD resumes its declining trend. ..."
"... The increase in liquid fuels supplies is set to be dominated by increases in NGLs and biofuels, with only limited growth in crude ..."
www.bp.com

In the ET scenario, global demand for liquid fuels – crude and condensates, natural gas liquids (NGLs), and other liquids – increases by 10 Mb/d, plateauing around 108 Mb/d in the 2030s.

All of the demand growth comes from developing economies, driven by the burgeoning middle class in developing Asian economies. Consumption of liquid fuels within the OECD resumes its declining trend. The growth in demand is initially met from non-OPEC producers, led by US tight oil. But as US tight oil production declines in the final decade of the Outlook, OPEC becomes the main source of incremental supply. OPEC output increases by 4 Mb/d over the Outlook, with all of this growth concentrated in the 2030s. Non-OPEC supply grows by 6 Mb/d, led by the US (5 Mb/d), Brazil (2 Mb/d) and Russia (1 Mb/d) offset by declines in higher-cost, mature basins.

Consumption of liquid fuels grows over the next decade, before broadly plateauing in the 2030s

Demand for liquid fuels looks set to expand for a period before gradually plateauing as efficiency improvements in the transport sector accelerate. In the ET scenario, consumption of liquid fuels increases by 10 Mb/d (from 98 Mb/d to 108 Mb/d), with the majority of that growth happening over the next 10 years or so. The demand for liquid fuels continues to be dominated by the transport sector, with its share of liquids consumption remaining around 55%. Transport demand for liquid fuels increases from 56 Mb/d to 61 Mb/d by 2040, with this expansion split between road (2 Mb/d) (divided broadly equally between cars, trucks, and 2/3 wheelers) and aviation/marine (3 Mb/d). But the impetus from transport demand fades over the Outlook as the pace of vehicle efficiency improvements quicken and alternative sources of energy penetrate the transport system . In contrast, efficiency gains when using oil for non-combusted uses, especially as a feedstock in petrochemicals, are more limited. As a result, the non-combusted use of oil takes over as the largest source of demand growth over the Outlook, increasing by 7 Mb/d to 22 Mb/d by 2040.

The outlook for oil demand is uncertain but looks set to play a major role in global energy out to 2040

Although the precise outlook is uncertain, the world looks set to consume significant amounts of oil (crude plus NGLs) for several decades, requiring substantial investment. This year's Energy Outlook considers a range of scenarios for oil demand, with the timing of the peak in demand varying from the next few years to beyond 2040. Despite these differences, the scenarios share two common features. First, all the scenarios suggest that oil will continue to play a significant role in the global energy system in 2040, with the level of oil demand in 2040 ranging from around 80 Mb/d to 130 Mb/d. In all scenarios, trillions of dollars of investment in oil is needed Second, significant levels of investment are required for there to be sufficient supplies of oil to meet demand in 2040. If future investment was limited to developing existing fields and there was no investment in new production areas, global production would decline at an average rate of around 4.5% p.a. (based on IEA's estimates), implying global oil supply would be only around 35 Mb/d in 2040. Closing the gap between this supply profile and any of the demand scenarios in the Outlook would require many trillions of dollars of investment over the next 20 years.

Growth in liquids supply is initially dominated by US tight oil, with OPEC production increasing only as US tight oil declines

Growth in global liquids production is dominated in the first part of the Outlook by US tight oil, with OPEC production gaining in importance further out. In the ET scenario, total US liquids production accounts for the vast majority of the increase in global supplies out to 2030, driven by US tight oil and NGLs. US tight oil increases by almost 6 Mb/d in the next 10 years, peaking at close to 10.5 Mb/d in the late 2020s, before falling back to around 8.5 Mb/d by 2040. The strong growth in US tight oil reinforces the US's position as the world's largest producer of liquid fuels. As US tight oil declines, this space is filled by OPEC production, which more than accounts for the increase in liquid supplies in the final decade of the Outlook.

The increase in OPEC production is aided by OPEC members responding to the increasing abundance of global oil resources by reforming their economies and reducing their dependency on oil, allowing them gradually to adopt a more competitive strategy of increasing their market share. The speed and extent of this reform is a key uncertainty affecting the outlook for global oil markets (see pp 88-89).

The stalling in OPEC production during the first part of the Outlook causes OPEC's share of global liquids production to fall to its lowest level since the late 1980s before recovering towards the end of the Outlook.

Low-cost producers: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq and Russia

Oil demand
Download chart and data Download this chart pdf / 64.6 KB Download this data xlsx / 10.1 KB
Excluding GTLs and CTLs

The abundance of oil resources, and risk that large quantities of recoverable oil will never be extracted, may prompt low-cost producers to use their comparative advantage to expand their market share in order to help ensure their resources are produced.

The extent to which low-cost producers can sustainably adopt such a 'higher production, lower price' strategy depends on their progress in reforming their economies, reducing their dependence on oil revenues.

In the ET scenario, low-cost producers are assumed to make some progress in the second half of the Outlook, but the structure of their economies still acts as a material constraint on their ability to exploit fully their low-cost barrels.

The alternative 'Greater reform' scenario assumes a faster pace of economic reform, allowing low-cost producers to increase their market share. The extent to which low-cost producers can increase their market share depends on: the time needed to increase production capacity; and on the ability of higher-cost producers to compete, by either reducing production costs or varying fiscal terms.

The lower price environment associated with this more competitive market structure boosts demand, with the consumption of oil growing throughout the Outlook.

Growth in liquid fuels supplies is driven by NGLs and biofuels, with only limited growth in crude oil production

The increase in liquid fuels supplies is set to be dominated by increases in NGLs and biofuels, with only limited growth in crude.

[Feb 15, 2019] You can see how the definitions are going to blur and they're going to allow declaring oil production numbers to be anything that they want them to be.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... I have been suspicious for some time that production numbers can be corrupted by fuzzy definitions. ..."
"... You can see how the definitions are going to blur and they're going to allow declaring oil production numbers to be anything that they want them to be. ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Watcher: 02/15/2019 at 4:24 am

I have been suspicious for some time that production numbers can be corrupted by fuzzy definitions. Iran is being sanctioned, but Iran shares that enormous gas field under the Persian Gulf with Qatar. Gas production yields condensate and it yields NGLs.

High vapor pressure NGLs get labeled liquefied petroleum gas, and that is used for transportation fuel in India. Pentane Plus is used or called something akin to natural gasoline.

You can see how the definitions are going to blur and they're going to allow declaring oil production numbers to be anything that they want them to be. Iran is using this to dodge sanctions, or they did use it when condensate was not restricted. Don't recall if that loophole was closed in the current sanctions. That would be a good thing to know.

The same thing can happen with shale. We hear all sorts of talk about how much gas is being flared and how much gas is being captured, and you know perfectly well there has to be condensate involved. There was an article a year or so ago about NGL capture in the Bakken, but I don't recall any follow-up. It shouldn't take too much of a stretch on the part of state regulators to find a way to count the high vapor pressure portion of NGL as oil.

likbez: 02/15/2019 at 7:27 pm

You can see how the definitions are going to blur and they're going to allow declaring oil production numbers to be anything that they want them to be.

Exactly. And this, in turn, allows Wall Street to suppress the price of "prime oil" using fake production numbers, fake storage glut (which is essentially condensate glut) and similar tricks. Please note that the US refineries consume mainly "prime oil" while the USA mainly produces (and tries to export at a discount) "subprime oil."

Pretty polished and sophisticated racket. It might well be that shale oil companies are partially financed from those Wall Street profits as nobody in serious mind expect those loans to be ever repaid.

So OPEC cuts are the only weapon that OPEC countries have against this racket.

In any case, I think all those nice charts now need to be split into "prime oil" and subprime oil parts and analyzed separately. In the current conditions, treating "heavy oil" and condensate as a single commodity looks to me like pseudoscience.

[Jan 13, 2019] Catherine Austin Fitts – Federal Government Running Secret Open Bailout

Highly recommended!
Questionable, but still interesting perspective. Ignore marketing crap -- clearly there is marketing push within this presentation -- she wants your subscriptions. "This is Main Street vs Wall Street" dichotomy sounds plausible. Neoliberalism is, in essence, is the restoration of power of financial oligarchy.
But the idea of secret open bailout might explain why shale oil became so prominent despite high cost of producing it: Wall Street was subsidised via backchannels for bringing price downand supporting shale companies by the US goverment
Jan 12, 2019 | www.youtube.com

$21 trillion in "missing money" at the DOD and HUD that was discovered by Dr. Mark Skidmore and Catherine Austin Fitts in 2017 has now become a national security issue. The federal government is not talking or answering questions, even though the DOD recently failed its first ever audit.

Fitts says, "This is basically an open running bailout. Under this structure, you can transfer assets out of the federal government into private ownership, and nobody will know and nobody can stop it. There is no oversight whatsoever. You can't even know who is doing it. I'm telling you they just took the United States government, they just changed the governance model by accounting policy to a fascist government. If you are an investor, you don't know who owns those assets, and there is no evidence that you do. . . . If the law says you have to produce audited financial statements and you refuse to do so for 20 years, and then when somebody calls you on it, you proceed to change the accounting laws that say you can now run secret books for all the agencies and over 100 related entities."

In closing, Fitts says, "We cannot sit around and passively depend on a guy we elected President. The President cannot fix this. We need to fix this. . . . This is Main Street versus Wall Street. This is honest books versus dirty books. If you want the United States in 10 years to resemble anything what it looked like 20 years ago, you are going to have to do it, and there is no one else who can do it. You have to first get the intelligence to know what is happening."

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with Catherine Austin Fitts, Publisher of "The Solari Report." Donations: https://usawatchdog.com/donations/

Stay in contact with USAWatchdog.com: https://usawatchdog.com/join/

All links can be found on USAWatchdog.com: https://usawatchdog.com/secret-money-...

Bob T 20 hours ago

Greg, with all due respect I don't you understand what CAF is saying. Forget about a dollar reset. The fascists, using the Treasury, Exchange Stabilization Fund, HUD, DOD and any agency they choose, have turned the US government into a gigantic money laundering operation. And they maintain two sets of books - the public numbers are a complete sham. Any paper assets held by private citizens are not secure, are likely rehypothecated, and when convenient can be frozen or siezed by these fascists in Washington. There is no limit to how many dollars the FED can create secretly and funnel out through the ESF/Treasury to prop up and bail out any bank, black ops, pet project, mercenary army or paper assets they choose. The missing $21 trillion is probably a drop in the bucket as there is no audit and no honest books for us to examine. In sum, all paper asset pricing in dollars is a fraud and a sham. Any paper assets you think you own, whether it be stocks, bonds, or real estate are pure illusion: they can be repriced or stolen at any time; in reality, you own nothing. To the man and woman on the street I say this: get out of paper, get out of these markets and convert to tangibles in your physical possession - and do it secretly and privately, avoid insurances, records, paper trails. This mass defrauding of the American people by this corrupt government in Washington will come crashing down when the US dollar is displaced from reserve status; this is what China and Russia and the BRICS are setting the stage for: world trade without the US dollar. When this happens, your dollars will become virtual toilet paper and all of your paper assets will go poof.

D Loydel 18 hours ago (edited)

"We have to fix this". Ok how does the individual fix this? Private armies are running around doing whatever private armies do and I, the one man, is suppose to fix this. Please, will someone tell us what we are suppose to do, specific instructions not a mix of large words that say " we must fix this", damn, we need a leader. Greg you ask almost every person you interview what the middle class should be doing to protect themselves and you never get a "real" answer, just a dance around. Also you ask numerous people what this coming change is going to look like and again, just silence or dance music, no answers. Damn we need a leader. Your trying very hard to give us information that will help us weather the coming storm, so thank you for all you do, and you do more than anyone else out there.

Forrest Byers 19 hours ago

Question, why in part do I feel I am being lied to? Is it subscription hustle or is it, don't you believe your lying eyes!

Without knowing exactly what is what, anyone who would've watched Herbert Walker Bush's funeral with reactions from those who received cards, whether they be Bush family, the Clintons, the Obamas and entourage. Jeb Bush went from being proud and patriotic to panic like the funeral that he was at was for the whole family.

Joe Biden looked like he had a major personal accident and no way to get to the bathroom for cleanup.

George W. Bush after being asked a question, of which the answer was, "Yep" then proceeded to appear resigned and stoic! What ever was on those cards essentially amounted to, for all those receiving a card, "the gig is up" and it appears they all damn well knew it.

So, Catherine Austin Fitts, explain your, "Trump is colluding with the Bushies," I would say, that Canary in this mine of inquiry is dead. I'm just an old disabled Vietnam vet of plebeian background and certainly not a revolving door Washington DC Beltway patrician, so any explanation needs to be delivered in slow, logical step-by-step progression for I have not mastered the art of selling the sizzle in hopes that the dupes will later pay for the steak. I prefer, Greg, when you actually get more combative with Ms. Fitts. Make America, great again and do so, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

sell siliconvalley 19 hours ago

35 min: Fitts gives a great synopsis of the problem. She never deviates in all of her interviews. greg doesn't seem to understand at all. She repeats herself MULTIPLE TIMES and greg is still asking the same irrelevant PREPPER questions. IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT ASSETS YOU HOLD GREG, AND THAT INCLUDES GOLD!!!! WHEN YOU'RE EXISTING IN A TYRANNICAL SYSTEM THAT STEALS AT WILL FROM ITS' CONSTITUENCY YOU CAN'T actually OWN ANYTHING!!!! lord! only so many ways to say

Andy Mak 17 hours ago

She lost credibility when she said Trump has "made a deal with the Bushes." That defies logic. The Bushes made a deal with Trump! Trump has gained full control of the military with a $ 1 1/2 trillion war chest. Trump and Putin are putting the China toothpaste back in the tube.

Karen Lydon 19 hours ago

This woman clearly knows nothing about the plan..she has not even mentioned that the world bank president has resigned who was appointed by obumma. And that is HUGE. She was in government in the corruption, but she doesn't know how things will be fixed..she's not in that loop of current things in the new reset..shes coming from her own perceptions

A T 20 hours ago

This woman always make me sick to my stomach. She comes out and says a bunch of scary stuff and offers no solution. If it's too much for just one person, then we the people need to take control. We don't need a central bank. We need local and state banks like the Bank of North Dakota then we can migrate over to them and then shut down the Fed.

[Nov 11, 2018] Trump's Iran Policy Cannot Succeed Without Allies The National Interest by James Clapper & Thomas Pickering

Highly recommended!
It's interesting that Clapper is against abandoned by Trump Iran deal.
Tramp administration is acting more like Israeli marionette here, because while there a strategic advantage in crushing the Iranian regime for the USA and making a county another Us vassal in the middle East, the cost for the country might be way to high (especially if we count in the cost of additional antagonizing Russia and China). Trump might jump into the second Afghanistan, which would really brake the back of US military -- crushing Iran military is one thing, but occupying such a county is a very costly task. And that might well doom Israel in the long run as settlers policies now created really antagonized, unrecognizable minority with a high birth rate.
Vanishing one-by-one of partners are given due to collapse of neoliberalism as an ideology. Nobody believes that neoliberalism is the future, like many believed in 80th and early 90th. This looks more and more like a repetion of the path of the USSR after 1945, when communist ideology was discredited and communist elite slowly fossilized. In 46 years from its victory in WWII the USSR was dissolved. The same might happen with the USA in 50 years after winning the Cold War.
Notable quotes:
"... a vanishing one by one of American partners who were previously supportive of U.S. leadership in curbing Iran, particularly its nuclear program. ..."
"... The United States risks losing the cooperation of historic and proven allies in the pursuit of other U.S. national security interests around the world, far beyond Iran. ..."
Nov 09, 2018 | nationalinterest.org

Only well calibrated multilateral political, economic and diplomatic pressure brought to bear on Iran with many and diverse partners will produce the results we seek.

"Then there were none" was Agatha Christie's most memorable mystery about a house party in which each guest was killed off one by one. Donald Trump's policy toward Iran has resulted in much the same: a vanishing one by one of American partners who were previously supportive of U.S. leadership in curbing Iran, particularly its nuclear program.

Dozens of states, painstakingly cultivated over decades of American leadership in blocking Iran's nuclear capability, are now simply gone. One of America's three remaining allies on these issues, Saudi Arabia, has become a central player in American strategy throughout the Middle East region. But the Saudis, because of the Jamal Khashoggi killing and other reasons, may have cut itself out of the action. The United Arab Emirates, so close to the Saudis, may also fall away.

Such paucity of international support has left the Trump administration dangerously isolated. "America First" should not mean America alone. The United States risks losing the cooperation of historic and proven allies in the pursuit of other U.S. national security interests around the world, far beyond Iran.

... ... ...

European allies share many of our concerns about Iran's regional activities, but they strongly oppose U.S. reinstitution of secondary sanctions against them. They see the Trump administration's new sanctions as a violation of the nuclear agreement and UN Security Council resolutions and as undermining efforts to influence Iranian behavior. The new sanctions and those applied on November 5 only sap European interest in cooperating to stop Iran.

... ... ...

The United States cannot provoke regime change in Iran any more than it has successfully in other nations in the region. And, drawing on strategies used to topple governments in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States should be wary of launching or trying to spur a military invasion of Iran.

Lt. Gen. James Clapper (USAF, ret.) is the former Director of National Intelligence. Thomas R. Pickering is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Russia and India.

[Sep 04, 2018] Kunstler Warns -Some Kind Of Epic National Restructuring Is In The Works

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The shale oil "miracle" was a stunt enabled by supernaturally low interest rates, i.e. Federal Reserve policy. Even The New York Times said so yesterday ( The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground ). ..."
"... As with shale oil, they depend largely on dishonest financial legerdemain. They are also threatened by the crack-up of globalism, and its 12,000-mile supply lines, now well underway. Get ready for business at a much smaller scale. ..."
"... Hard as this sounds, it presents great opportunities for making Americans useful again, that is, giving them something to do, a meaningful place in society, and livelihoods. ..."
"... Pervasive racketeering rules because we allow it to, especially in education and medicine. Both are self-destructing under the weight of their own money-grubbing schemes. ..."
"... A lot of colleges will go out of business. Most college loans will never be paid back (and the derivatives based on them will blow up) ..."
"... The leviathan state is too large, too reckless, and too corrupt. Insolvency will eventually reduce its scope and scale. Most immediately, the giant matrix of domestic spying agencies has turned on American citizens. ..."
"... It will resist at all costs being dismantled or even reined in. One task at hand is to prosecute the people in the Department of Justice and the FBI who ran illegal political operations in and around the 2016 election. These are agencies which use their considerable power to destroy the lives of individual citizens. Their officers must answer to grand juries. ..."
"... As with everything else on the table for debate, the reach and scope of US imperial arrangements has to be reduced. ..."
Sep 04, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

And so the sun seems to stand still this last day before the resumption of business-as-usual, and whatever remains of labor in this sclerotic republic takes its ease in the ominous late summer heat, and the people across this land marinate in anxious uncertainty.

What can be done?

Some kind of epic national restructuring is in the works. It will either happen consciously and deliberately or it will be forced on us by circumstance. One side wants to magically reenact the 1950s; the other wants a Gnostic transhuman utopia. Neither of these is a plausible outcome.

Most of the arguments ranging around them are what Jordan Peterson calls "pseudo issues." Let's try to take stock of what the real issues might be.

Energy

The shale oil "miracle" was a stunt enabled by supernaturally low interest rates, i.e. Federal Reserve policy. Even The New York Times said so yesterday ( The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground ).

For all that, the shale oil producers still couldn't make money at it. If interest rates go up, the industry will choke on the debt it has already accumulated and lose access to new loans. If the Fed reverses its current course - say, to rescue the stock and bond markets - then the shale oil industry has perhaps three more years before it collapses on a geological basis, maybe less. After that, we're out of tricks. It will affect everything.

The perceived solution is to run all our stuff on electricity, with the electricity produced by other means than fossil fuels , so-called alt energy. This will only happen on the most limited basis and perhaps not at all. (And it is apart from the question of the decrepit electric grid itself.) What's required is a political conversation about how we inhabit the landscape, how we do business, and what kind of business we do. The prospect of dismantling suburbia -- or at least moving out of it -- is evidently unthinkable. But it's going to happen whether we make plans and policies, or we're dragged kicking and screaming away from it.

Corporate tyranny

The nation is groaning under despotic corporate rule. The fragility of these operations is moving toward criticality. As with shale oil, they depend largely on dishonest financial legerdemain. They are also threatened by the crack-up of globalism, and its 12,000-mile supply lines, now well underway. Get ready for business at a much smaller scale.

Hard as this sounds, it presents great opportunities for making Americans useful again, that is, giving them something to do, a meaningful place in society, and livelihoods.

The implosion of national chain retail is already underway. Amazon is not the answer, because each Amazon sales item requires a separate truck trip to its destination, and that just doesn't square with our energy predicament. We've got to rebuild main street economies and the layers of local and regional distribution that support them. That's where many jobs and careers are.

Climate change is most immediately affecting farming. 2018 will be a year of bad harvests in many parts of the world. Agri-biz style farming, based on oil-and-gas plus bank loans is a ruinous practice, and will not continue in any case. Can we make choices and policies to promote a return to smaller scale farming with intelligent methods rather than just brute industrial force plus debt? If we don't, a lot of people will starve to death. By the way, here is the useful work for a large number of citizens currently regarded as unemployable for one reason or another.

Pervasive racketeering rules because we allow it to, especially in education and medicine. Both are self-destructing under the weight of their own money-grubbing schemes. Both are destined to be severely downscaled.

A lot of colleges will go out of business. Most college loans will never be paid back (and the derivatives based on them will blow up).

We need millions of small farmers more than we need millions of communications majors with a public relations minor. It may be too late for a single-payer medical system. A collapsing oil-based industrial economy means a lack of capital, and fiscal hocus-pocus is just another form of racketeering. Medicine will have to get smaller and less complex and that means local clinic-based health care. Lots of careers there, and that is where things are going, so get ready.

Government over-reach

The leviathan state is too large, too reckless, and too corrupt. Insolvency will eventually reduce its scope and scale. Most immediately, the giant matrix of domestic spying agencies has turned on American citizens.

It will resist at all costs being dismantled or even reined in. One task at hand is to prosecute the people in the Department of Justice and the FBI who ran illegal political operations in and around the 2016 election. These are agencies which use their considerable power to destroy the lives of individual citizens. Their officers must answer to grand juries.

As with everything else on the table for debate, the reach and scope of US imperial arrangements has to be reduced. It's happening already, whether we like it or not, as geopolitical relations shift drastically and the other nations on the planet scramble for survival in a post-industrial world that will be a good deal harsher than the robotic paradise of digitally "creative" economies that the credulous expect.

This country has enough to do within its own boundaries to prepare for survival without making extra trouble for itself and other people around the world. As a practical matter, this means close as many overseas bases as possible, as soon as possible.

As we get back to business tomorrow, ask yourself where you stand in the blather-storm of false issues and foolish ideas, in contrast to the things that actually matter.

[Feb 20, 2018] For the life of me I cannot figure why Americans want a war/conflict with Russia

Highly recommended!
This post summaries several "alternative" views that many suspect, but can't express as clearly as here.
Feb 20, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Palloy | Feb 20, 2018 8:52:02 PM | 34

@4 "For the life of me I cannot figure why Americans want a war/conflict with Russia."

Ever since US Crude Oil peaked its production in 1970, the US has known that at some point the oil majors would have their profitability damaged, "assets" downgraded, and borrowing capacity destroyed. At this point their shares would become worthless and they would become bankrupt. The contagion from this would spread to transport businesses, plastics manufacture, herbicides and pesticide production and a total collapse of Industrial Civilisation.

In anticipation of increasing Crude Oil imports, Nixon stopped the convertibility of Dollars into Gold, thus making the Dollar entirely fiat, allowing them to print as much of the currency as they needed.

They also began a system of obscuring oil production data, involving the DoE's EIA and the OECD's IEA, by inventing an ever-increasing category of Undiscovered Oilfields in their predictions, and combining Crude Oil and Condensate (from gas fields) into one category (C+C) as if they were the same thing. As well the support of the ethanol-from-corn industry began, even though it was uneconomic. The Global Warming problem had to be debunked, despite its sound scientific basis. Energy-intensive manufacturing work was off-shored to cheap labour+energy countries, and Just-in-Time delivery systems were honed.

In 2004 the price of Crude Oil rose from $28 /barrel up to $143 /b in mid-2008. This demonstrated that there is a limit to how much business can pay for oil (around $100 /b). Fracking became marginally economic at these prices, but the frackers never made a profit as over-production meant prices fell to about $60 /b. The Government encourages this destructive industry despite the fact it doesn't make any money, because the alternative is the end of Industrial Civilisation.

Eventually though, there must come a time when there is not enough oil to power all the cars and trucks, bulldozers, farm tractors, airplanes and ships, as well as manufacture all the wind turbines and solar panels and electric vehicles, as well as the upgraded transmission grid. At that point, the game will be up, and it will be time for WW3. So we need to line up some really big enemies, and develop lots of reasons to hate them.

Thus you see the demonisation of Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela for reasons that don't make sense from a normal perspective.

[Feb 03, 2018] JP Morgan Oil Could Hit $78 Within Months

Highly recommended!
Feb 03, 2018 | oilprice.com

J.P. Morgan beat all other investment banks in their forecasts for the price of Brent crude this year, setting its projection at US$70 a barrel. To compare, the second most bullish forecast on Brent is from Bank of America at US$64 a barrel, while Goldman is even more cautious and has not yet upgraded its Brent price forecast from its US$62 a barrel prediction.

J.P. Morgan's reasoning is the same as the other banks': the global economy will continue to expand, which will stimulate growth in oil demand and healthy prices. This dynamic will also drive WTI prices higher, with the average for the year seen at US$65.63 a barrel by J.P. Morgan's oil analysts.

Despite the upbeat mood, the investment bank's analysts do recognize the danger of growing U.S. and other non-OPEC production. So, while their price forecasts are for the average level of Brent and WTI this year, the bank's senior oil analyst Abhishek Deshpande noted in an interview with CNBC that "This 2018 is going to be a year of two halves. The first half is going to be a ... half of demand, and the second half is more about supply, which is coming back in reaction to the higher oil prices." The first half of the year will be so strong, Deshpande believes, that Brent could hit US$78 a barrel in the first or the second quarter. Yet in the second half of the year, drillers will increase their production in response to the higher prices, and this higher production may weigh on the benchmarks.

There is also something else that may occur before too long: a price correction resulting from the record-high bullish positions on the six most popular oil-related futures contracts. In his latest column , Reuters' John Kemp warned that despite the already record number of long bets on these six contracts, money managers are continuing to place more, with the number of net long bets on Brent alone rising by an equivalent of 14 million barrels in the week to January 23. In total, net long bets on the six contracts swelled by 44 million barrels to 1.484 billion barrels. More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:

Mamdouh G Salameh on January 30 2018 said:
The positive oil fundamentals of the global oil market can easily support an oil price ranging from $70-$75 a barrel in 2018. If similar positive market conditions continue into 2019, then we can see oil prices rising to $80/barrel or even higher in 2019 and hitting $100 or higher by 2020. A $70/barrel will be the for for Brent oil prices in 2018.

Prices will also be supported by a fast re-balancing of the market and also by an understanding between Saudi Arabia and Russia to maintain the OPEC/non-OPEC production cut agreement well beyond 2018 with some adjustments to reflect changing market conditions.

On the supply side, the global oil market will ignore exaggerated claims by the EIA and IEA about US shale oil production averaging 10.3 million barrels a day (mbd) in 2018 and rising to 11 mbd by 2019. My projection for US shale oil production in 2018 is 9.25 mbd made up of 5.10 mbd of shale oil and 4.15 mbd of conventional oil. My projection allows for a 5% depletion in US conventional wells.

The oil price has to rise beyond $100/barrel before one can talk about a price correction. I have always expressed the view that a fair price is $100-$130/barrel. Such a price will provide a great impetus to the global economy.

Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

Citizen Oil on January 30 2018 said:
The daily oil prediction nonsense. Wasn't it just a few months ago the daily nonsense was "lower for longer" LOL Haven't heard that one for a while. Predictions we'd be in a $ 40 to $ 50 oil environment for years if not decades . Oh yeah, then we'd be at $ 10 when everyone drives an EV.

[Jun 24, 2017] The Saudi-Qatar spat - the reconciliation offer to be refused>. Qater will move closer to Turkey

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "In my view this is a deep power struggle between Qatar and Saudi Arabia that has little to do with stated reasons regarding Muslim Brotherhood and Iran. The action to isolate Qatar was clearly instigated during US President Trump's recent visit in Riyadh where he pushed the unfortunate idea of a Saudi-led "Arab NATO" to oppose Iranian influence in the region. ..."
"... Moreover, Qatar was acting increasingly independent of the heavy Wahhabite hand of Saudi Arabia and threatening Saudi domination over the Gulf States. Kuwait, Oman, as well as non-Gulf Turkey were coming closer to Qatar and even Pakistan now may think twice about joining a Saudi-led "Arab NATO". Bin Salman has proven a disaster as a defense strategist, as proven in the Yemen debacle. ..."
"... Kuwait and Oman are urgently trying to get Saudi to backdown on this, but that is unlikely as behind Saudi Arabia stands the US and promises of tens of billions of dollars in US arms. ..."
"... This foolish US move to use their proxy, in this case Riyadh, to discipline those not "behaving" according to Washington wishes, could well be the turning point, the point of collapse of US remaining influence in the entire Middle East in the next several years." ..."
"... KSA could not have taken this course of action all by itself. Someone somewhere must be egging them on. But who? The US seems to have no interest in a Saudi-Qatari conflict. Israel might, but only if said conflict is resolved in Saudi favor. ..."
"... I am therefore coming to the conclusion that there is no longer clear leadership of US policy and there are different factions within the US government. The white house and CIA are supporting the Saudis while the Pentagon supports Qatar. This is just a hunch, but it seems like it could make sense. Perhaps this is what happens when a government is in a state of decompensation. ..."
"... It is mind boggling that a fundamental reshaping of the Middle East was most likely put in motion by Trump completely oblivious of what he was doing shooting from the hip on his Saudi trip. ..."
"... Outside of an outright invasion of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, it is hard to see this as a once in a life time geopolitical gift to Russia, Iran, Turkey, Syria, and Iran. ..."
"... Now when July 3 comes and goes, Saudi Arabia will look completely impotent in the eyes of the countries in the region. ..."
"... Gaddafi's speech to the Arab League in Syria 2008 was so prescient ..."
"... "We [the Arabs] are the enemies of one another I'm sad to say, we deceive one another, we gloat at the misfortune of one another, and we conspire against one another, and an Arab's enemy is another Arab's friend. ..."
"... I quite like the WWI parallel. Trump as Kaiser Wilhelm? There certainly are some striking similarities in character. ..."
"... "...gifted, with a quick understanding, sometimes brilliant, with a taste for the modern,-technology, industry, science -- but at the same time superficial, hasty, restless, unable to relax, without any deeper level of seriousness, without any desire for hard work or drive to see things through to the end, without any sense of sobriety, for balance and boundaries, or even for reality and real problems, uncontrollable and scarcely capable of learning from experience, desperate for applause and success, -- as Bismarck said early on in his life, he wanted every day to be his birthday-romantic, sentimental and theatrical, unsure and arrogant, with an immeasurably exaggerated self-confidence and desire to show off, a juvenile cadet, who never took the tone of the officers' mess out of his voice, and brashly wanted to play the part of the supreme warlord, full of panicky fear of a monotonous life without any diversions, and yet aimless, pathological in his hatred against his English mother." ..."
"... It also stands to reason if you simply consider Saudi's importance regionally: A lot is made of Iran's threat to Saudi influence, but Turkey - thanks in part to considerable investment by Qatar currently while investment from elsewhere has reduced massively -- is also very threatening to Saudi's influence, especially on the religious front. ..."
"... Iran representing Shia interests in the region and Turkey representing Sunni interests is not a difficult future to imagine. It would of course grate with Saudi Arabia given that it had poured vast amounts of money into the Turkish economy and the diyanet. ..."
"... Hassan Nasrallah has given his annual International Al-Quds Day speech with plenty of fire aimed at the usual suspects. The Daily Star reports: 'Nasrallah accused Saudi Arabia of "paving way for Israel" in the region. ..."
"... Actually, I hope for many more benefits will show up from this quarrel than improved profits for Iranian produce growers. It is worthwhile to observe that Dubai, a component emirate of UAE, has gigantic economic links with Iran, which must be tolerated by overlords from Abu Dhabi: they had to bail out their cousins after real estate collapse, so they have big money stake in Dubai being prosperous. Potentially, Dubai and especially the hapless vegetable and dairy producers in KSA can lose a bundle (the latter had to invest a lot in farms for Qatari market, it is not like letting cows graze on abundant grasslands plus planting cucumbers and waiting for the rain to water them). Aljazeera and Muslim Brotherhood are more irritating to KSA and UAE than an occasional polite missive to Iran. ..."
"... Qatar opened the Middle East's first centre for clearing transactions in the Chinese yuan on Tuesday, saying it would boost trade and investment between China and Gulf Arab economies. ..."
"... The only hope for Saudi Arabia is to re-denominate oil sales in multiple currencies such as the WTO drawing rights, of course based on another formula, perhaps based on the countries that purchase the most oil. This would be the only way for the royalty to gain longevity as rulers of the country. Any other scenario spells disaster. ..."
Jun 23, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org
Pft | Jun 23, 2017 8:43:28 PM | 45
William Engdahls views. "In my view this is a deep power struggle between Qatar and Saudi Arabia that has little to do with stated reasons regarding Muslim Brotherhood and Iran. The action to isolate Qatar was clearly instigated during US President Trump's recent visit in Riyadh where he pushed the unfortunate idea of a Saudi-led "Arab NATO" to oppose Iranian influence in the region.

The Saudi move, clearly instigated by Prince Bin Salman, Minister of Defense, was not about going against terrorism. If it were about terrorism, bin Salman would have to arrest himself and most of his Saudi cabinet as one of the largest financiers of terrorism in the world, and shut all Saudi-financed madrasses around the world, from Pakistan to Bosnia-Herzgovina to Kosovo. Another factor according to informed sources in Holland is that Washington wanted to punish Qatar for seeking natural gas sales with China priced not in US dollars but in Renminbi. That apparently alarmed Washington, as Qatar is the world's largest LNG exporter and most to Asia.

Moreover, Qatar was acting increasingly independent of the heavy Wahhabite hand of Saudi Arabia and threatening Saudi domination over the Gulf States. Kuwait, Oman, as well as non-Gulf Turkey were coming closer to Qatar and even Pakistan now may think twice about joining a Saudi-led "Arab NATO". Bin Salman has proven a disaster as a defense strategist, as proven in the Yemen debacle.

As to the future, it appears that Qatar is not about to rollover and surrender in face of Saudi actions. Already Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is moving to establish closer ties with Iran, with Turkey that might include Turkish military support, and most recently with Russia.

Kuwait and Oman are urgently trying to get Saudi to backdown on this, but that is unlikely as behind Saudi Arabia stands the US and promises of tens of billions of dollars in US arms.

This foolish US move to use their proxy, in this case Riyadh, to discipline those not "behaving" according to Washington wishes, could well be the turning point, the point of collapse of US remaining influence in the entire Middle East in the next several years."

lysander | Jun 23, 2017 7:43:17 PM | 42
KSA could not have taken this course of action all by itself. Someone somewhere must be egging them on. But who? The US seems to have no interest in a Saudi-Qatari conflict. Israel might, but only if said conflict is resolved in Saudi favor.

I am therefore coming to the conclusion that there is no longer clear leadership of US policy and there are different factions within the US government. The white house and CIA are supporting the Saudis while the Pentagon supports Qatar. This is just a hunch, but it seems like it could make sense. Perhaps this is what happens when a government is in a state of decompensation.

R Winner | Jun 23, 2017 1:41:04 PM | 4

It is mind boggling that a fundamental reshaping of the Middle East was most likely put in motion by Trump completely oblivious of what he was doing shooting from the hip on his Saudi trip.

Outside of an outright invasion of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, it is hard to see this as a once in a life time geopolitical gift to Russia, Iran, Turkey, Syria, and Iran.

Juggs | Jun 23, 2017 2:24:33 PM | 9
Now when July 3 comes and goes, Saudi Arabia will look completely impotent in the eyes of the countries in the region.

I wonder if there is some sort of interest between Russia, Turkey, Qatar, and Iran on a coup in Saudi Arabia. I can't imagine it would be that difficult. I know it is not Putin's policy to play these types of games like the US Regime, but one has to assume that people are just fucking done with the clowns running Saudi Arabia.

harrylaw | Jun 23, 2017 2:36:39 PM | 10
Gaddafi's speech to the Arab League in Syria 2008 was so prescient..

"We [the Arabs] are the enemies of one another I'm sad to say, we deceive one another, we gloat at the misfortune of one another, and we conspire against one another, and an Arab's enemy is another Arab's friend.

Along comes a foreign power, occupies an Arab country [Iraq] and hangs its President,and we all sit on the sidelines laughing. Any one of you might be next, yes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZZvPlGCt_8

okie farmer | Jun 23, 2017 2:37:39 PM | 11
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/23/close-al-jazeera-saudi-arabia-issues-qatar-with-13-demands-to-end-blockade
Qatar given 10 days to meet 13 sweeping demands by Saudi Arabia
Gulf dispute deepens as allies issue ultimatum for ending blockade that includes closing al-Jazeera and cutting back ties with Iran
Juggs | Jun 23, 2017 2:41:55 PM | 13
Peter AU "Is Qatar, like Turkey, already heading for a multi-polar world? For 25 years, the US was the only game in town, but with Russia's move into Syria there are now options."

Hard to see the world heading in that direction:

I wonder if Qatar is already in talks with China about joining the Silk Road Initiative now that it is openly moving into the Russia and Iran sphere.

karlof1 | Jun 23, 2017 3:06:36 PM | 16
Juggs 13--

"I wonder if Qatar is already in talks with China about joining the Silk Road Initiative..."

You'll find the answer's yes as Pepe explains, https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201706161054701807-west-cannot-smell-what-eurasia-cooking/ and http://www.atimes.com/article/blood-tracks-new-silk-roads/

dh | Jun 23, 2017 3:20:35 PM | 19
@17 The best is yet to come. There's a chance Netanyahu will fly into Riyadh to tell everybody what to do. I'm sure he wants what's best for the region.
L'Akratique | Jun 23, 2017 3:29:54 PM | 20
I quite like the WWI parallel. Trump as Kaiser Wilhelm? There certainly are some striking similarities in character.

Quote from Thomas Nipperdey:

"...gifted, with a quick understanding, sometimes brilliant, with a taste for the modern,-technology, industry, science -- but at the same time superficial, hasty, restless, unable to relax, without any deeper level of seriousness, without any desire for hard work or drive to see things through to the end, without any sense of sobriety, for balance and boundaries, or even for reality and real problems, uncontrollable and scarcely capable of learning from experience, desperate for applause and success, -- as Bismarck said early on in his life, he wanted every day to be his birthday-romantic, sentimental and theatrical, unsure and arrogant, with an immeasurably exaggerated self-confidence and desire to show off, a juvenile cadet, who never took the tone of the officers' mess out of his voice, and brashly wanted to play the part of the supreme warlord, full of panicky fear of a monotonous life without any diversions, and yet aimless, pathological in his hatred against his English mother."

cankles | Jun 23, 2017 4:05:49 PM | 25
@Laguerre #23
I have difficulty in seeing a relationship with the Silk Road Initiative, other than that Qatar exports a lot of LNG to China.

China Eyes Qatar in its Quest to Build a New Silk Road

Last month at the China-Arab Cooperation Forum in Doha, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi postulated that Qatar should take part in the realization of China's Silk Road Initiatives.
Laguerre | Jun 23, 2017 4:42:05 PM | 27
@cankles | Jun 23, 2017 4:05:49 PM | 25

Yeah, you're right. I hadn't looked into the question sufficiently. Of course the Chinese are looking for more external finance for the project. They don't want to be the only ones who pay. Fat chance, though. The Qataris have been in austerity since the decline in the oil price. Someone I know who works in the Qatar Museum has seen all her colleagues let go. And now the crisis with Saudi.

The Qataris may even have signed contracts with China. But if you know anything about the Gulf, there's a wide gap between signing a contract, and actually getting paid. It depends upon how the prince concerned feels about the project when the question of payment comes up. A company I worked for in the 80s took two years to get payment, even though they were experts in Gulfi relations.

AtaBrit | Jun 23, 2017 4:51:40 PM | 28
Great piece.

The issue of the threat regarding the Turkish base didn't surprise me much, though. I think it's clear that if MB is the target, then of course Turkey has to become a target, and Qatar - Turkey ties have to be broken. It stands to reason.

It also stands to reason if you simply consider Saudi's importance regionally: A lot is made of Iran's threat to Saudi influence, but Turkey - thanks in part to considerable investment by Qatar currently while investment from elsewhere has reduced massively -- is also very threatening to Saudi's influence, especially on the religious front.

Iran representing Shia interests in the region and Turkey representing Sunni interests is not a difficult future to imagine. It would of course grate with Saudi Arabia given that it had poured vast amounts of money into the Turkish economy and the diyanet.

On a slightly different note there's a scandal going on in western Turkey, in Duzce, at the moment because the local authority has unveiled a statue of Rabia - the four fingered Muslim Brotherhood salute! :-)

Mina | Jun 23, 2017 5:09:45 PM | 29
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/271450/World/Region/UN-blames-warring-sides-for-Yemens-cholera-catastr.aspx
let's blame underfed guys in skirts for fun
karlof1 | Jun 23, 2017 5:16:47 PM | 30
Hassan Nasrallah has given his annual International Al-Quds Day speech with plenty of fire aimed at the usual suspects. The Daily Star reports: 'Nasrallah accused Saudi Arabia of "paving way for Israel" in the region.

'"It's unfortunate that Saudi Arabia is the head of terrorism and today it's holding its neighbors accountable for supporting terrorism," Nasrallah said, hinting to the recent economic sanctions against Qatar.' https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2017/Jun-23/410688-nasrallah-says-regional-conflicts-seek-to-serve-israel-interest.ashx

Al-Manar provides this report, http://english.almanar.com.lb/292250

Unfortunately, I cannot locate an English language transcript, although one might become available eventually as is usually the case.

Piotr Berman | Jun 23, 2017 6:42:14 PM | 36
Piotr Berman

Aljazeera evil? Are you joking? ....

@Anon | Jun 23, 2017 3:47:56 PM | 24

You did not address the argument I made, namely, that Aljazeera editors apparently belong to "Muslims, who immediately set out to support it [Darwinian theory of evolution] unaware of the blasphemy and error in it." These guys pretend to be nice Wahhabis, dressing in dishdashas, their womenfolks in abayas, but in fact they spread heretical and blasphemous doctrines. However, I am more of a Khazar than a Wahhabi and I do not treat this argument seriously.

It is the fact that compared to other government supported TV/online venues, say RT or PressTV, Aljazeera is well written and edited, has plenty of valuable material, etc. It is a worthwhile place to check when you want to get a composite picture on some issues. And it irritates KSA potentates in a myriad of ways, precisely because it targets "politically engaged Muslim".

It is a good example that pluralism has inherent positive aspects, devils that quarrel are better than "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them."

====

Actually, I hope for many more benefits will show up from this quarrel than improved profits for Iranian produce growers. It is worthwhile to observe that Dubai, a component emirate of UAE, has gigantic economic links with Iran, which must be tolerated by overlords from Abu Dhabi: they had to bail out their cousins after real estate collapse, so they have big money stake in Dubai being prosperous. Potentially, Dubai and especially the hapless vegetable and dairy producers in KSA can lose a bundle (the latter had to invest a lot in farms for Qatari market, it is not like letting cows graze on abundant grasslands plus planting cucumbers and waiting for the rain to water them). Aljazeera and Muslim Brotherhood are more irritating to KSA and UAE than an occasional polite missive to Iran.

One pattern in Syrian civil war were persistent and bloody feuds between jihadists that formed roughly four groups:

  1. "salafi", presumably funded by KSA,
  2. "brothers", presumably funded by Qatar and Turkey,
  3. al-Qaeda/al-Nusra/something new that was forcing the first two groups to surrender some weapons (and money?),
  4. and ISIS that had more complex sources (or more hidden).

Medium term strategy of Syrian government and allies for the near future is to "de-escalate" in the western part of the country and finish off ISIS, partitioning hitherto ISIS territories in some satisfactory way, while maintaining some type of truce with the Kurds. Then finish off the jihadists, except those most directly protected by Turkey. Finally, take care of the Kurds. Some sufficiently safe federalism can be part of the solution, but nothing that would lead to enclaves with their own military forces and their own foreign policy, like Iraqi Kurdistan.

That requires the opposing parties to exhibit somewhat suicidal behavior. A big time official feud between "brothers" and "salafi + Kurds" (a pair that shares some funding but with scant mutual affection" can help a lot. Most of all, a big time feud between Turkey and KSA can stabilize the situation in which jihadists from Idlib and northern Hama observe a truce/de-escalation, while their colleagues from south Syria get clobbered, and definitely will induce them to refrain from attacking Syrian government while it is busy against ISIS. After Erdogan was prevented from marching onto Raqqa, he has two options: "Sunnistan" in eastern Syria under domination of YPG or a much smaller YPG dominated territory that can be subsequently digested. Option one is a true nightmare for Erdogan, more than a mere paranoia. However, Erdogan is also "pan-Sunni" Islamist, so he could be tempted to backstab infidels from Damascus, as he was doing before. An open feud with Sunnistan sponsors should help him to choose.

likklemore | Jun 23, 2017 6:49:14 PM | 37
Cankles @ 25 Is that really you? If so, you should know -

Look behind the curtain. This has to do with maintaining the price of oil in US$.

Qatar launches first Chinese yuan clearing hub in Middle East .

Qatar opened the Middle East's first centre for clearing transactions in the Chinese yuan on Tuesday, saying it would boost trade and investment between China and Gulf Arab economies.

"The launch of the region's first renminbi clearing center in Doha creates the necessary platform to realise the full potential of Qatar and the region's trade relationship with China," Qatar's central bank governor Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud al-Thani said at a ceremony.

"It will facilitate greater cross-border renminbi investment and financing business, and promote greater trade and economic links between China and the region, paving the way for better financial cooperation and enhancing the pre-eminence of Qatar as a financial hub in MENA (Middle East and North Africa)."
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's (ICBC) Doha branch is the clearing bank for the centre, which intends to serve companies from around the Middle East.

A clearing bank can handle all parts of a currency transaction from when a commitment is made until it is settled, reducing costs and time taken for trading.

The centre "will improve the ease of transactions between companies in the region and China by allowing them to settle their trade directly in renminbi, drawing increased trade through Qatar and boosting bilateral and economic collaboration between Qatar and China," said ICBC chairman Jiang Jianqing.

At present, Qatar and the Gulf's other wealthy oil and gas exporters use the U.S. dollar much more than the yuan. Most of their currencies are pegged to the dollar, and most of their huge foreign currency reserves are denominated in dollars.

Laguerre @27

Date of article April 24, 2017

In April 2015, Qatar opened Qatar Renminbi Centre (QRC), the region's first clearing centre for the Chinese currency. This allows for trades priced in RMB to be cleared locally in Qatar rather than in other centres such as Shanghai or Hong Kong.ICBC has since become the designated clearance bank servicing the QRC, which has handled more than 350bn yuan ($52.6bn) since its inception.
http://emerge85.io/blog/the-middle-kingdoms-big-four-and-the-gulf

~ ~ ~ ~
Trending and not very far to seeing what is now held under the table. Oil will also be priced in RMB because KSA, to maintain their share of exports to China, will need to get on board. For now, it's been reaffirmed, SA does the whipping and USA protects the Royals.

rawdawgbugfalo | Jun 23, 2017 6:54:19 PM | 38
Well said, I still think this is all dreamlike. Having natural gas and sharing it with Iran is a mf.

Qatar: Is it about Trump, Israel or Nascent Influence? http://wsenmw.blogspot.com/2017/06/qatar-is-it-about-trump-israel-or.html

Piotr Berman | Jun 23, 2017 7:34:43 PM | 40
About Sunni-Shia split. My impression is that this is mostly KSA + UAE obsession. For example, there is a substantial Shia minority in Pakistan, but the dominant thinking among the Sunnis seems to be "Muslim solidarity". There is a minority that is virulently anti-Shia, but they are politically isolated and despised exactly on the account of breaking that solidarity. After all, Pakistan forms the boundary of the Umma with non-Muslim India. I base that opinion on comments in online Pakistani newspapers, and what I have heard from an acquaintance who was a religiously conservative Sunni Pakistani. To him, the attack on Yemen by KSA was wrong "because they are Muslim". So even if Pakistan is to a certain extend in Saudi pocket, and its deep state has an extremist Sunni component, overt siding against "fellow Muslim" is out of the question.

Egypt is another case. One can find rather isolated anti-Shia outbursts, like writings of some fossils in Al-Azhar (who are responsible for the state religion), but the government steers away from that, and in spite of hefty subsidies, it joined Yemen war only symbolically and for a very short time (unlike Sudan that really needs the cash for its mercenaries). As you move further away from the Persian Gulf, the indifference to the "split" increases. As far as Qatar and Aljazeera are concerned, probably no one detests them more than Egyptian elite, as they were valiantly fighting Muslim Brotherhood for the sake of progress with some occasional large massacres (killing several hundreds of protesters, issuing hundreds of death penalties to participants in a single protest, in absentia! incredible idiocy+cruelty). That explains why al-Sisi joined KSA against Qatar.

However, the civil war in Libya that embroils Egypt is a classic case of unexpected alliances. Egypt with a help from Russia, KSA and UAE supports the "eastern government" that bases legitimacy on democratic parliament re-assembled in Tobruq on Egyptian border, and dominated by military strongman Haftar. The latter has the best chance of all people to become a military strongman of all Libya, but apparently has meager popularity and thus, too few troops. He patched that problem by an alliance with a Salafi group that had a numerous militia, currently partitioned into smaller units and incorporated into Haftar's brigades. Even with that, his progress on the ground is very, very gradual. Against him is the government in Tripolis, legitimized by a more fresh parliament and UN/EU, plus a military force that includes several militias. Part of the parliamentary support stems from Muslim Brotherhood, and some part of military support comes from Salafi militias. There are also aspects of a "war of all against all", seems that Saharan tribes collected a lot of fresh blood feuds.

Thus Qatari+Turkish support for Tripoli government is aligned with EU, and Egyptian support for Tobruq government is aligned with Russia and KSA.

Dusty | Jun 23, 2017 7:38:26 PM | 41
I thought I might just throw this out there and see what sticks. US policy is based on power and control. Saudi Arabia has been a good ally but it does not serve use policy or strategic goals any longer. Not really. I think the grand prize for destabilizing the middle east is Saudi Arabia. It would be the only way to truly control the development of other nations or more specifically, to control their rivalries and save the the US from complete economic breakdown. The Saudi's are being plumbed by the best of them, telling them they are you friends, we have your back and so long as Saudi Arabia loses more money and keeps lossing money in needless wars etc.

The only hope for Saudi Arabia is to re-denominate oil sales in multiple currencies such as the WTO drawing rights, of course based on another formula, perhaps based on the countries that purchase the most oil. This would be the only way for the royalty to gain longevity as rulers of the country. Any other scenario spells disaster. Of course, it would be a rough go for them for a while, but in the end, a slight change in outlook and the unfair advantage given to the US would go a long way, economically to stabilizing large blocks of countries. They also could of course change their outlook on the world, but that is certainly a difficult challenge. If the Muslim world came together based on their similarities, they could be a very powerful block.

The US no longer has the financial velocity it once maintained and this is much more due to insane ideas about being a hegemon. I never thought revolution would be possible in the US, but it is coming and it won't take much. The country does not appear to have intelligence peddle back a number of policies, drunk on its own poison, it makes capitalism look disgusting. A new business model is needed, one that developes mutual trade based on respect from within the exchange itself. Saudi Arabia needs to cultivate multi-channel support for its biggest resource so that when the returns are no longer there, they will have also developed multiple avenues to prosperity. Just a thought.

[Sep 26, 2016] War as a Business Opportunity

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... As General Smedley Butler, twice awarded the Medal of Honor, said: War is a racket . Wars will persist as long as people see them as a "core product," as a business opportunity. In capitalism, the profit motive is often amoral; greed is good, even when it feeds war. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is willing to play along. It always sees "vulnerabilities" and always wants more money. ..."
"... Wars are always profitable for a few, but they are ruining democracy in America. Sure, it's a business opportunity: one that ends in national (and moral) bankruptcy. ..."
Sep 24, 2016 | www.antiwar.com
A good friend passed along an article at Forbes from a month ago with the pregnant title, "U.S. Army Fears Major War Likely Within Five Years - But Lacks The Money To Prepare." Basically, the article argues that war is possible - even likely - within five years with Russia or North Korea or Iran, or maybe all three, but that America's army is short of money to prepare for these wars. This despite the fact that America spends roughly $700 billion each and every year on defense and overseas wars.

Now, the author's agenda is quite clear, as he states at the end of his article: "Several of the Army's equipment suppliers are contributors to my think tank and/or consulting clients." He's writing an alarmist article about the probability of future wars at the same time as he's profiting from the sales of weaponry to the army.

As General Smedley Butler, twice awarded the Medal of Honor, said: War is a racket . Wars will persist as long as people see them as a "core product," as a business opportunity. In capitalism, the profit motive is often amoral; greed is good, even when it feeds war. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is willing to play along. It always sees "vulnerabilities" and always wants more money.

But back to the Forbes article with its concerns about war(s) in five years with Russia or North Korea or Iran (or all three). For what vital national interest should America fight against Russia? North Korea? Iran? A few quick reminders:

#1: Don't get involved in a land war in Asia or with Russia (Charles XII, Napoleon, and Hitler all learned that lesson the hard way).

#2: North Korea? It's a puppet regime that can't feed its own people. It might prefer war to distract the people from their parlous existence.

#3: Iran? A regional power, already contained, with a young population that's sympathetic to America, at least to our culture of relative openness and tolerance. If the US Army thinks tackling Iran would be relatively easy, just consider all those recent "easy" wars and military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria

Of course, the business aspect of this is selling the idea the US Army isn't prepared and therefore needs yet another new generation of expensive high-tech weaponry. It's like convincing high-end consumers their three-year-old Audi or Lexus is obsolete so they must buy the latest model else lose face.

We see this all the time in the US military. It's a version of planned or artificial obsolescence . Consider the Air Force. It could easily defeat its enemies with updated versions of A-10s, F-15s, and F-16s, but instead the Pentagon plans to spend as much as $1.4 trillion on the shiny new and under-performing F-35 . The Army has an enormous surplus of tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, but the call goes forth for a "new generation." No other navy comes close to the US Navy, yet the call goes out for a new generation of ships.

The Pentagon mantra is always for more and better, which often turns out to be for less and much more expensive, e.g. the F-35 fighter.

Wars are always profitable for a few, but they are ruining democracy in America. Sure, it's a business opportunity: one that ends in national (and moral) bankruptcy.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views . He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu . Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author's permission.

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